A return to life, a return to blogging. I was in LACMA yesterday for the first time in two years. After brunch in West Hollywood it seemed easy and casual enough to pop over for a look at the Magritte exhibit--when did it ever seem easy to pop over to MoMA? I took this as a positive--so before long we were parking our cars near the bubbling tar pits and paying $20 to walk on a carpet decorated like a blue sky with clouds--a nod to Magritte's surrealism, ah. What a strange and sad exhibit: While it showed us plenty of the more important Magritte works, there was a decided lack of progression--of order; that is, unless you were intrigued enough to ask one of the Bowler-hatted guards where to look next, as if he or she might have had an answer for you. (Do you like wearing the hat today? I asked one. It's Ok, he said. It's chilly this afternoon.)
No, as you walked through doorways carved ever so bizarrely--ah, this must have been the semiotic experimentation Magritte wanted for us--it was much easier to spot a work by a contemporary artist interpreting Magritte than, say, a true pipe picture from yesteryear. It was a decidedly un-MoMa type of show (especially noticeable when a middle-age man elbowed me to get at the bowler-hat display so he could strike a historical, philosphical image on Wilshire), and we felt robbed. A downer of a blog post, perhaps, but LA is a major art center. Sure, I get it: This is the county's museum of art--it has to appeal to everyone, and make money. But hell, that's still possible while doing a great artist like Magritte better. I shouldn't have to look forward to my time in the gift shop and then leave the museum with a wall-ready print of David Hockney's Mulholland Drive (with the words LACMA so obnoxiously scrawled in curves above the actual image) when I come down to L.A.'s leading art center for a look at something specifically un-Californinian.
[Hockney's Mulholland Drive: Oh-so-ready for the living room thanks to LACMA.]