LACMA Collectors Buy 8 Works by Women Artists

Lisa Reihana, in Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015-17
LACMA's 2019 Collectors Committee raised $2.4 million to buy eight works of art, all by women and spanning the globe's cultures. Among the acquisitions are sculptures by Anne Truitt, Huma Bhabha, and Luisa Roldán; Charlotte Perriand's echt-modern kitchen, created for a Le Courbusier apartment; a set of five post-war African-American quilts.
Luchita Hurtado, untitled, c. 1951, gift of Janet Dreisen Rappaport and Herb Rappaport through the 2019 Collectors Committee, © Luchita Hurtado, photo courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth 
The Collectors Committee is a group of LACMA supporters who assemble annually to pledge money to a pooled fund for buying art for the permanent collection. Curators pitch potential acquisitions, then Committee members vote. Artworks are purchased in order of popularity, until the collective bankroll is exhausted. Patrons can dedicate special funds to buy favored works, guaranteeing their acquisition. That happened this year when Janet and Herb Rappaport provided funds to buy an untitled crayon drawing by Luchita Hurtado, the first work bought. The artist, a standout at the Hammer's 2018 "Made in L.A.", celebrates her 100th birthday next year.
Anne Truitt, White: Four, 1962. Gift of the 2019 Collectors Committee, (c), photo (c) Museum Associates/LACMA
Anne Truitt was until now a gap in LACMA's collection of postwar art. White: Four (1962) was inspired by white-washed picket fences at the Maryland shore of the artist's childhood. In form it bears comparison to a John McCracken plank, but with the hand-painted deadpan of a John McLaughlin. It's Tom Sawyer's fence, a border fence, and all the other schemes of the American trickster.
Luisa Roldán, The Education of the Virgin, early 1680s
As museums try to address their collections' gender imbalance, female "Old Masters" are in short supply. Luisa Roldán (a.k.a. La Roldana) was the preeminent woman sculptor of Baroque Spain. The Getty revived interest in Roldán's art when it acquired her life-size Saint Ginés de la Jara in 1985. The Metropolitan Museum bought a small painted terra-cotta Entombment in 2016. The LACMA Education of the Virgin is earlier than either, yet it's a mature piece, made when the artist was about 30. It joins a notable collection of polychrome sculpture that LACMA has assembled over the past few decades.
Lisa Reihana, in Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015-17 (detail/still of a 64-minute video installation)
In 1769 Captain James Cook travelled to to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the sun's disk. It was the black hole photo of the Enlightenment. Cook's voyage inspired a panoramic wallpaper by Jean-Gabriel Charvet and printed by Joseph Dufour; and that wallpaper, in turn, inspired a contemporary work just acquired by LACMA's Pacific Islands department, Lisa Reihana's in Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015-17. Reihana is a New Zealand artist of Maori descent. Her in Pursuit of Venus is an ultra-high-res video seamlessly merging the wallpaper with acted tableaux by contemporary Pacific Islanders. It's a joint acquisition with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (which holds a near-complete set of the Charvet/Dufour wallpaper panels).
Charlotte Perriand, Kitchen for an apartment in Le Courbusier's Unité d'Habitation, Marseille (completed 1952)
Le Courbusier's Unité d'Habitation apartments were conceived as modernist utopias for workers. The rare kitchen by Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999), created for the Marseille Unité d'Habitation, has aluminum countertops, then a trending material. Though tiny, Perriand's kitchen was open to the living space, a novel concept for the time.
Sherry Byrd, Roman Stripe Variations, 1989
Mary Lue "Mother" Brown, Hit and Miss, c. 1945
Five quilts, by Mary Lue Brown, Effie Jackson, Laverne Brackens, Sherry Byrd, and Rosie Lee Tompkins, epitomize the improvisatory aesthetic. Begun without a detailed design, their irregular shapes and lines subvert geometry as much as follow it. LACMA has a sizable collection of 19th-century quilts from the Northeast and Midwest, but nothing like these examples, dating from the 1940s to 1992.
Farideh Lashai, ​When I count, there are only you..., But when I look, there is only a shadow​, 2012–13, projection of animated images on a suite of 80 original photo-intaglio prints, gift of the 2019 Collectors Committee, © Estate of Farideh Lashai
For some time Collectors Committees have been acquiring contemporary Islamic art. This year's buy, Farideh Lashai's When I count, there are only you… But when I look, there is only a shadow (2012-13) juxtaposes Western art history (and T.S. Eliot) against the artist's memory of the Iraq-Iranian war. Goya's Disasters of War are stripped of figures and illuminated by a moving spotlight. Lashai, also an abstract painter, writer, and translator, died in 2013.
Huma Bhabha, God of Some Things, 2011
Huma Bhabha remixes antiquity with a sci-fi vibe. Her God of Some Things (2011) is bronze cast from hand-carved cork. Narrative art fans may note that the figure's hair has been compared to Princess Leia's.

Two presented works weren't acquired: an intriguing ceramic urn from 18th-century Jalisco and Eleanor Antin's 2017 reprise of the 1972 performance/photo series Carving. The latter will however soon be on view in "Eleanor Antin: Time's Arrow," opening at LACMA May 12.

2019 is shaping up to be a year of the woman for exhibitions as well. This fall LACMA will have three simultaneous retrospectives of major woman artists: "Mary Corse: A Survey in Light" (July 28–Nov. 11, 2019); "Betye Saar: Call and Response" (Sep. 22, 2019–Apr. 5, 2020); and "Julie Mehretu" (Nov. 3–May 17, 2020). Across town, the Hammer will present "Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel" (June 9–Sep. 1, 2019), and the Broad will have "Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again" (mid-Oct. 2019 through early 2020).
Side view of Huma Bhabha's God of Some Things, 2011


Anonymous said…
What's the point of buying more artworks for LACMA? With the Govan-Zumthor devastation, the pieces will even more likely end up stored away and forgotten. Or the museum's budget will end up with so much red ink, the artworks will have to be sold all over again.

Today, Paris's Notre Dame is burning, while LA's LACMA is having its own blaze.
Anonymous said…
Yay! More art to show in one of LACMA's satellite locations while the Wilshire overpass...I mean museum lies in perpetual construction and red ink.