“To experience 3-D,” reads the museum wall expository text, “is to engage with questions about the nature of perception, the allure of illusionism, and our relationship with the technologies that create such hyper-realistic images.” But no matter how high-concept and allegorical the idea of illusion can get, at heart 3-D art is still primarily spectacular, wow-inducing fun. As with all the best historical institutional surveys, LACMA’s “3-D: Double Vision” covers all the bases.
In large part the success of the show in merging art history, technological scholarship and popular appeal is a reflection of the curator’s own interests converging. An acclaimed art historian and experienced curator, Britt Salvesen, department head and curator of both the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography and the Prints & Drawings department since October 2009, organized the show. The fervor of her scholarship and her personal, fun-loving passion for this genre are equally contagious.
Juxtaposing vintage equipment from science and industry, fine and popular art, and film, “3-D: Double Vision” is the first American survey of this realm, and its scale is deep and broad, with images and objects dating from 1838 to the present day. There are works of lenticular and holographic printing, which can create the effects without special glasses, and examples of the ways in which contemporary artists use digital technology and make deliberate throwbacks to its early handmade iterations, to better explore this perennially popular genre.
Art aficionados will appreciate engaging works such as analog avant-garde fidget-spinners from Marcel Duchamp, a hand-drawn film by William Kentridge, illusionistic text-based wall works from Ed Ruscha, lunar compositions by Thomas Ruff, performance-based photography by Mariko Mori and 3-D wallpaper by Peggy Weil. But the 3-D pictures from the 19th century featuring scenes from the Civil War and European landmarks are wondrous in their own right.
“3-D: Double Vision” is on view at LACMA through March 31.
5905 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile; (323) 857-6010, lacma.org; Mon., Tue., Thu., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri.: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.. $25, $20 L.A. County residents; free every Mon.-Fri., 3 p.m.-close.
Save the dates for these special related events:
Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 7:30 .p.m.: Artist Tristan Duke talks about his hand-drawn holograms during a walk-through of the exhibition, followed by a hands-on demonstration in the Study Center for Photography and Works on Paper. Free with museum admission.
Saturday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m.-midnight: LACMA’s annual Muse ’til Midnight party for younger members takes its theme from the exhibition. $30, members $20.