By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
JULIE LAZARDIRECTOR OF EXPERIMENTAL PROGRAMS, MOCA
To acquire a work that will eventually be only a memory is a bold thing to do, but that's what MOCA did when it accepted Michael Heizer's Double Negative into its collection. The question of museums taking responsibility for temporal works that aren't meant to be permanent, yet are part of contemporary art history, is complex and important, and it was raised very beautifully in Double Negative, which is essentially a drawing on the earth. I love the challenge it presented, and that MOCA's board was adaptable enough to accommodate it.
Robert Irwin's garden at the Getty reminds me of Monet's Waterlilies at Giverny -- it's like a three-dimensional painting rendered in light and plant life. I love the sensitivity Irwin brought to his handling of the water and sounds of the piece -- it's as if he tuned the bridges that cross the stream -- and the constant change is thrilling.
CYNTHIA MACMULLINDIRECTOR OF COLLECTIONS AND EXHIBITIONS, MUSEUM OF LATIN AMERICAN ART
Our collection focuses on painting, and one of my favorite works is Mar de Lurin, by a Peruvian painter named Fernando de Szyszlo. He was born in 1925 and raised in Lima, then spent a lot of time in Europe, and the result of those two influences is a style that combines a romantic interpretation of pre-Hispanic culture with contemporary lyrical abstraction. Mar de Lurin is an architectural element in an abstracted landscape, and it's painted in dramatic colors that are evocative of indigenous Peruvian textiles. It has an eternal quality that for me evokes the dignity of a very old heritage.
James Ensor's Christ's Entry Into Brussels in 1889 at the Getty is a fantastic painting. It's so potent and satirical, and considering that Ensor painted it in 1888, it's amazingly progressive. It's a painting of â a religious subject done in an Expressionistic style, but it has humor and social commentary running through it that are really gutsy. It's one of Ensor's most important pieces, and it's wonderful the Getty has it.
BARRY MUNITZPRESIDENT & CEO, THE GETTY TRUST
We have a work called The Avranches Psalter that's an exceptional example of French Gothic manuscript painting. It was made northeast of Paris in the first decade of the 13th century, and includes nine painted illuminations inspired by the Book of Psalms. I love it because my discipline is literature, and this book tells us a lot about family life in the medieval period; the paintings are mostly religious imagery, but depictions of country life are interspersed in the compositions. Shortly after I started working at the Getty, the dealer who sold it to us came to show it, and there he was in the bowels of the organization with this manuscript in an old beaten-up attaché case. He was a master of the theater curators like to indulge in -- the white gloves, the foam-rubber cradle positioned just so -- and when I finally saw this staggeringly beautiful object, I was speechless. The privilege of having that kind of intimacy with artworks of this caliber is the joy of this job.
I'm amazed by the Ardabil Carpet, which is a Persian work from the 16th century at LACMA. Its design -- a central medallion with radiating pendants -- is derived from earlier manuscript illumination, and it's a huge, gorgeous rug. I also love the Shakespeare folios and the Gutenberg Bible at the Huntington, which has great books and an exquisite setting.
WESTON NAEFCURATOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY, THE GETTY
I'm always moved by the intelligence and emotion of Carleton E. Watkins' work. His reputation is as a landscape photographer, because he was one of the first artists to take a mammoth camera into Yosemite, but he also did extraordinary genre studies, portraits and still lifes. We have over 1,200 of his pictures, and my favorite is a photograph from 1889 of the mother of all Thompson's seedless grapes. Watkins found his way to the very vine in Bakersfield that transformed agriculture in California, and made a still-life study of it that has the monumental presence of a Cézanne. To me, it's one of the great bridges between documentary and fine-art photography.
A work of profound historical importance is Edward Weston's Pepper #30, from 1930, at LACMA. Form and emotion come together in this photograph in an amazing way, and when you first look at it, it appears to be two intertwined human forms. Initially, you don't recognize it as a pepper, because Weston imbued a quality of intense sensuality to something we normally consider as sexless as a stone.
JAMES NOTTAGEVICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF CURATOR, THE AUTRY MUSEUM
One of the most emotional works at the Autry is a painting from 1875 by Thomas Moran called Mountain of the Holy Cross. It's an idealized landscape depicting fissures in the side of a mountain that are filled with snow so as to create the image of a cross. People who've been raised in a Christian environment often interpret the painting as a symbol of God's presence in nature, but many other people respond to it simply because it's a great work of art. We also have a movie camera made in the early 20th century by the Schustek Company that I love. It was used by the Norman Film Manufacturing Company, which produced 20 silent films, including three Westerns, that were cast entirely with African-Americans. The Norman family wasn't black, and that they had the vision to make these films 75 years ago is remarkable. The Westerns have unfortunately been lost, but we have posters, lobby cards, stills and the camera.