The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an exhibition that captures the breadth of art and culture around the world, as well as honoring the cultural diversity in the country. The exhibit, 50 for 50: Gifts on the Occasion of LACMA’s Anniversary features an amazingly eclectic collection of works that display the diversity found in the museum’s other varied galleries.
Works in the exhibit, which opens April 26, 2015, span 600 years and represent every continent and countless cultures. There are European works from the 15th century religious art through modern day pop art, with several popular impressionists in between. The sculptures represent modern times all the way back to Italy in the 1600s; they include a marble bust by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, a Gabonese reliquary figure, an Edgar Degas bronze and an eye-catching cast polyester resin (Red Concave Circle, 1970) by DeWain Valentine. The show also features Ethiopian crosses, a Mexican lacquered trunk, Japanese cloisonné enamel bowls, and an engraved silver tureen from India.
The museum thought about ways to celebrate the 50-year milestone besides traditional fundraising. “What do you give a museum for it’s 50th? … Art, of course,” Michael Govan, LACMA’s CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, said. LACMA approached several noteworthy collectors and patrons asking for future bequests (pieces given upon death of the owner) to celebrate the occasion. The resulting windfall is astounding with more than 200 significant works committed to eventually become part of the LACMA collection.
The exhibition features 50 of the major gifts donated to LACMA for its golden anniversary. Many of the works in the exhibit are on loan to the museum for the anniversary, and will be bequeathed to LACMA in the future. As Govan acknowledged today, “Any of the pieces would have been a notable gift, much less all.”
The LACMA show includes four promised gifts from Jane and Marc Nathanson by Roy Lichtenstein, George Segal and James Rosenquist, along with Andy Warhol’s well known Two Marilyns (1962). Also featured are promised masterpieces by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Giambologna (Flying Mercury, 1580), and François Boucher from Lynda and Stewart Resnick’s collection. They also included Christ Blessing (1480–85), the first work by Hans Memling, an important artist working in late 15th-century Flanders, to enter LACMA’s collection.
The show includes paintings by Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas and three other notable works from the collection from A. Jerrold “Jerry” Perenchio, who was formerly chairman and chief executive of Univision. The pieces on display in this anniversary show are part of Perenchio’s historic $500 million bequest of nearly 50 masterpieces from the 19th and 20th centuries that he promised to the museum.
The public can enjoy the diversity of art in the 50 for 50 displays free of charge on opening day, April 26, in L.A.. The exhibit will run through Sep. 13, 2015. LACMA is located in the heart of the city, next to the La Brea Tar Pits. The address is 5905 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax Avenue).
By Dyanne Weiss
Photos by Dyanne Weiss