LACMA Unboxes 50th Anniversary Gifts
Suzanne Kayne is giving a 1995 Rauschenberg acrylic on mirrored aluminum that will be the museum’s first painting by the artist. And as reported elsewhere, Jane and Marc Nathanson are giving an impressive group of New York Pop works, including a Warhol Double Marilyn, a late Lichtenstein Interior, and what will be LACMA’s first Rosenquist.
There’s more! Suzanne Deal Booth is promising a rare panel painting by Taddeo Gaddi, the collaborator of Giotto’s. Crucifixion with the Madonna and Saint John the Evangelist, c. 1360, was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2000, going for over four times the estimate ($690,000) on the strength of its condition and provenance. It had been owned by sculptor René de Saint-Marceau, whose salons were attended by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. There is no Gaddi in an L.A. museum.
Perenchio is the elephant in the room. He is promising almost 50 Impressionist and modern works. To make things interesting, the gift is contingent on LACMA tearing down the museum and building Zumthor’s replacement before the clock runs out. "50 for 50" presents a mere tease of the Perenchio collection. There are six works, not necessarily the six most important. "50 for 50" includes the superlative Degas pastel, At the Café-Concert, and a counter-intuitive Vuillard in the same medium, Sacha Guitry in His Dressing Room.
Latin American art: The Casta painting by Miguel Cabrera made the front page of the L.A. Times. It’s displayed above a lacquered trunk, from the same nation and century, given by Ronald A. Belkin.
Oceania, Photography, and American Design: The East Coast still pegs Los Angeles as the land of cars, surfboards, and the beach. Well... LACMA has been promised the Holy Grail of surfboard history, Duke Kahanamoku’s redwood board, c. 1920s. It’s part of the Mark and Carolyn Blackburn collection of 5,000 vintage photographs of Polynesia and documents of surfing as a cultural phenomenon.
A separate gift of Martha and Bruce Karsh comprises 35 modern travel posters promoting Southern California. The example at lower right is by Stan Galli, late 1950s.
For most of its history LACMA has relied on a few angels, often women, who funded needed acquisitions. Meanwhile a succession of alpha male collectors commanded the limelight, gave LACMA directors and curators the most grief, and didn’t always donate their collections. "50 to 50" suggests that LACMA is moving to a constellation of supporter-collectors with smart, diverse, and adventurous tastes. Thumbs up to that.