LACMA Buys Bronze by Groundbreaking Woman Sculptor

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, La Petite Danseuse (The Little Dancer), about 1902. LACMA

LACMA has been augmenting its small holding of works by African American artists of the early 20th century. The latest addition is a c. 1902 bronze, The Little Dancer, by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, whose career spanned fin-de-siècle Paris and the Harlem Renaissance. A more girlishly dynamic take on Degas' famous theme, it shows the influence of Rodin. Dealer Allan Chinn sold it to the museum.

Born in Philadelphia to an affluent Black family, Meta Vaux Warrick (1877-1968) made her reputation in Paris. There she met Henry Ossawa Tanner (who got her an apartment), Rodin (who praised her work), and W.E.B. DuBois (who encouraged her to take up Black subjects). Warrick moved back to America and married Dr. Solomon Fuller, said to be America's first Black psychiatrist. In her long career Warrick created portraits of accomplished women ranging from Phyllis Wheatley to Amelia Earhart. She was also a stage actor and playwright.

The Little Dancer was made in Paris. Most of the work from that period was lost in a 1910 fire at the artist's American studio. Warrick's art has been featured in books and group shows, but she is hardly to be seen in museum collections. New York's Schomburg Center has her Ethiopia Awakening, and the Danforth Museum, Framingham, Mass., has a large group of works from her studio. LACMA appears to be the first major art museum with a sculpture by the artist. 

PBS did an American Masters segment on Warrick, with commentary by Alison Saar.


Anonymous said…
To display things like the new sculpture, the Zumthor design not only contains less square feet than what was torn down, it also leaves the Price, Broad and Resnick galleries seemingly even more stranded than they were in the past. The Pereira-Hardy buildings, as inadequate as they were, at least seemed to visually or technically connect better with the three separate galleries, added since 1988, than the gray blob is going to do.

Did Zumthor-Govan ever ask: Instead of creating a second-level bridge that spans Wilshire Blvd, how about we make more of the new building's mass sit north of the street, not south of it?

Changes and improvement were long overdue with the 1965-1986 buildings, but what's going on right now has way too much of an ad-hoc quality.

Something about LACMA always has a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants dynamic.
Anonymous said…
^^^The Pereira-Hardy buildings were crap.

Renzo Piano thought they were crap.

He did the best he could to try to stitch the complex together, but it's not his best work.

The new building does make visual and architectural connections --- to Levitated Mass, to Urban Light, to the Piano Buildings, to the park, to the street, to the city, to the horizon...
Anonymous said…
^ The good thing is that at least the project is fully funded and LACMA has seen the money rolling in ever since Michael Govan deemed a one-floor-only museum to be the way to go.

I've heard through the grapevine that a $500 million contribution is waiting in the wings. The philanthropists are rumored to be members of the LA County Board of Supervisors. Good times!
Anonymous said…
Renzo Piano thought they were crap.

Piano's contributions to LACMA were also crap. Among his worst work that had me thinking if he hated LA (But then Eli Broad did choose the design).
Anonymous said…
Piano's Broad building, who some have described as looking like a 1960's-era elementary school, was partly saddled by an overly modest budget, a problem that has plagued LACMA for over 60 years. When the Anderson wing was added in 1986, because of a lack of enough money, it was never correctly merged with the older buildings to begin with.

Govan is trying to remodel the museum using a Ferrari template for a place long accustomed to being on a Hyundai budget. Even worse, the makeover is using an overly small Ferrari with way too many windows. Call it a TikTok Ferrari.
Anonymous said…
I feel like LACMA will always be doomed to have ugly buildings. At least Chris Burden's Urban Light is pretty.