J. Patrice Marandel Speaks Out on Zumthor-LACMA

J. Patrice Marandel, LACMA's recently retired Chief Curator of European Art, speaks (in French) about Peter Zumthor's building in a short video by Didier Rykner. Though shot a year ago, it was posted today on YouTube and on Rykner's French arts website, La Tribune de l'Art.

My French is terrible, and so are YouTube's auto-generated English subtitles. But one message is clear: Marandel is concerned about the presentation of the collection in the Zumthor building. (Click on the YouTube gear icon to select French Subtitles CC > Auto-translate > English.)

Marandel expresses admiration for the "beautiful, sublime" spaces of Zumthor's European museums. But he observes that they are unusual projects in that they present only a few objects. He describes a meeting with Zumthor that didn't go well. According to Marandel, the architect has extremely precise ideas about how he wants to present things. Zumthor said he only likes small museums where visitors can walk around in 10 minutes.

Marandel confesses he does not understand how LACMA's permanent collection will be presented in the Zumthor building or by whom; nor does he know how many objects will be on view at any time. Curators were not asked for input on how their departments might be expected to grow in the future. He says these seem to him essential questions, and they were not addressed.

As Chief Curator of European Art from 1993 to 2017, Marandel oversaw the acquisition of the Carter collection of Dutch paintings, plus works by Bernini, Watteau, Houdon, David, and Ingres. His successor, Leah Lehmbeck, heads a merged department of European and American art.


Anonymous said…
Whether in French or English, this is another example that Govan needs to say adieu and au revoir to LA.

For the sake of the arts and culture, honest accounting and bookkeeping practices, professionalism, high standards, quality and all-around sanity, he has to go.

Anonymous said…
Just as we should see Trump's tax returns to better understand his conflicts of interest, so should we see Govan's. His secrecy and slick PR campaign breeds doubt and mistrust. Marandel's opinion has far more credibility. I also wonder why the other LACMA curators of note have chosen to remain silent. Before it is too late, we should scrap this plan and find a new director.