By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
The Southwest Museum has sensational Navajo blankets. The quality and extent of the collection is staggering, and several of their pieces are the only ones of their type in existence. Many of these weavings were produced by cultures in states of extreme duress, and for me they represent the resilience of those cultures in a moving and beautiful way.
EDWARD NYGRENDIRECTOR OF ART COLLECTIONS, HUNTINGTON LIBRARY, ART COLLECTIONS AND BOTANICAL GARDENS
We have a J.M.W. Turner painting from the 1830s called The Grand Canal, Venice that's a breathtaking work by a master of landscape and atmospheric effect. It was recently cleaned by the Getty and was transformed; suddenly one saw that magnificent Venetian light that engaged so many artists over the centuries. There's a representation of Shylock in the lower right-hand corner that alludes to Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Turner frequently added those kinds of details to his landscapes, and in a sense they transform the work into a kind of history painting.
The Getty has a Théodore Géricault from 1818-19 called Portrait Study that's just gorgeous. It's the head of a black man, and Gericault rendered it with such lusciousness in terms of the handling of the paint that it's simply unforgettable.
DORAN ROSSDIRECTOR, FOWLER MUSEUM OF CULTURAL HISTORY
We have a drum that's rich in meaning for me, because I knew the carver of the drum -- Osei Bonsu -- and went to the village of Abofo, Ghana, where it was made in 1935. As is often the case with works of this type, the entire surface of the body of the drum is in relief, with images relating to traditional proverbs and beliefs in Ashanti society. Bonsu was a carver to several Ashanti kings, but this isn't a royal drum; rather, it was made for use by people getting together to drum for their own entertainment.
The Getty has a work by Jan Brueghel the Elder from 1613 called The Entry of the Animals Into Noah's Ark that's just a sweet painting. It's not very large, and you can barely see the ark in the background, but the foreground of the piece depicts a rich assortment of animals, each wonderfully drawn and detailed. The Getty published a guide to this particular painting for children that's really charming. â
PAUL SCHIMMELCHIEF CURATOR, MOCA
We have a work in our collection that provided the foundation for all contemporary art, and that's No. 1, 1949 by Jackson Pollock. Pollock changed the very nature of what constitutes the production of a work of art; the process became the subject of work after Pollock, and how the artist worked became what you saw. He broke the ice for performance art, body work, idiosyncratic personal languages -- it all came after him, and 1949 is the year he broke through. No. 1 is the first painting where what he's painting and how he's painting it are inseparable, and there's nothing like this work on the West Coast.
The Norton Simon's The Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece, by Guariento di Arpo, is a work of such complexity that you can sit in front of it for hours and never come to grips with it. It's a Gothic-style altarpiece from 1344, and, like the Pollock, it's a key work that introduced a radical change in Venetian painting of its period. It's also the epitome of what Norton Simon and great collecting are about. This isn't "school of," or a minor work by a major figure -- it's a singular masterpiece without equal. I recently looked at it with my 9-year-old son, and it was fascinating to try and reconcile contemporary culture with the narrative of this painting. The coronation of the Virgin, the Immaculate Conception -- what do these things mean to us today? It's a piece that raises questions that continue to be relevant, and that's what makes it ageless.
ROBERT SOBIEZSEKCURATORIAL CO-CHAIR AND CURATOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY, LACMA
Edgar Degas' The Bellelli Sisters, from 186264, was a key work in the shift that took place in portraiture as the 19th century gave way to Modernism, and to the greater understanding of human psychology that came in the 20th century. The way this affected portraiture is that artists began interpreting their sitters, as opposed to simply trying to depict them as realistically as possible. Qualities of uncertainty and fluidity began to appear in portraiture, and Degas handles all this beautifully in that painting.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology's Garden of Eden on Wheels is an exquisitely presented display of collectibles -- plates, pin cushions, tchotchkes -- acquired at a mobile-home park, that really made me laugh. I love that museum for the questions it raises in terms of what is art and how it's presented to a public. It's a phenomenal place and a real treasure, and I hope we can keep it here.
TYLER STALLINGSCURATOR OF EXHIBITIONS, LAGUNA BEACH ART MUSEUM
We have an incredible drawing by Jim Shaw called Dreams: Chris Wilder's Mom . . ., from a series he did in the mid-'90s. What I like about the series is that everything and everyone seem to be in his dreams all the time. It's a small piece done in pencil, and I like the tension created between the care taken in the rendering of the drawing, and the casual quality of an erasable medium like pencil.
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