Three extraordinary new exhibitions have opened at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. The Director of the museum is Ann Philbin. This is not an article about Ann Philbin – that is for another day – but it does show what she has shepherded since 1999 when she joined with UCLA in a space with an unknown future that has grown into a remarkable, outstanding, really cool academic museum. The space that was part of the Occidental Petroleum building has grown to a bigger space in the building, and is still under construction.
But this is an article about the art that is shown now, with quotes from Philbin. There was magic in putting these together. Plus they are free!
I am writing about what has become to be called Hammer Museum. There are three shows up now and they are all different in their scope and should be seen.
Joan Didion: What She Means
This is a very thoughtful and unique exhibit between two friends who are both authors. One must take time in exploring with careful observations. More than 200 works are presented, including paintings, photography, sculpture, video, film footage, manuscripts and other ephemera.
In Ann Philbin’s words:
“Joan Didion: What She Means is both a beautiful tribute and a moving portrait of the brilliant writer. Hilton Als approached us with the idea, which was born out of his long engagement with Joan Didion’s writing as well as his personal relationship with her. They were in dialogue before Joan’s passing in 2021, and she was enthusiastic and trusting of Hilton’s curatorial approach.”
And according to Hilton Als, who is a writer and curator and contributor to the New Yorker magazine:
“Processing Joan Didion’s life and works by following connective threads between words, art, and objects was an affirming experience. It’s a real pleasure to observe a beloved writer and her works, noticing new details and appreciating again the genius of Joan.”
Bob Thompson: This House is Mine
This is the first major survey of Thompson’s works, featuring more than 50 paintings and works on paper. When I first walked into the exhibit I was stunned by the gorgeous colors, then I explored his figurative expressionism and how he projects black experiences. He died at age 28. One wonders what more would have developed.
“Bob Thompson’s striking aesthetic makes his paintings unforgettable. His bold figures and landscapes have influenced contemporary artists like Rashid Johnson, Henry Taylor, and Alex Katz, all of whom contributed to the exhibition catalogue. We’re thrilled that Los Angeles is part of this national tour, and that audiences across the country are being reintroduced to this important artist.” – Ann Philbin.
Picasso: Cut Papers
This is a little known example of Picasso’s genius. This exhibition features some of Picasso’s most whimsical and intriguing works made on paper and in paper, along side a select group of sculptures and sheet metal. This survey spans Picasso’s entire career from his first cut papers at nine years of age to works he made in his eighties. They were rarely sold or exhibited, but they were signed and dated and archived.
A truly extraordinary exhibit.
“Given our major collection of works on paper from the Renaissance to the present, the Hammer has a long-standing commitment to presenting both historical and contemporary exhibitions of works on paper. We are thrilled to be organizing the first exhibition devoted solely to Pablo Picasso’s inventive cut papers, many of which have never been exhibited. Picasso Cut Papers will also be the first international loan exhibition to occupy our new Works on Paper Gallery.” – Ann Philbin.
The Hammer Museum.
10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles.
P.S. Picasso is also making another visit in town. He is appearing Face To Face with Ingres’s Madame Moitessier at the Norton Simon Museum.
Backstage with the Buzz is written by Sheila Tepper, Producer Cultural Programming. Sheila has lived in the Larchmont area for fifty years, among her passions have been passing legislation for children with disabilities and interviewing outstanding artists appearing in the Los Angeles area.