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LACMA Celebrates 50 Years with 50 Gifts on Exhibition

Red Concave Circle by DeWain Valentine
Red Concave Circle by DeWain Valentine, 1970 could become another LACMA icon.

What does an art museum want for its birthday? Art, of course.

That’s what Director Michael Govan and the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA) trustees decided when they brainstormed about celebrating LACMA’s 50th anniversary, which kicked off this week on LACMA’s Wilshire Blvd. campus.

Giambologna's "Flying Mercury" circa 1580.
Giambologna’s “Flying Mercury” circa 1580.

“We decided we’d go to some of the families and institutions who have supported LACMA in the past, and ask them to consider donating a single piece of artwork to the museum for it’s 50th celebration,” Govan told a packed room of press on Monday morning. He said the response was overwhelming. The eclectic mix of paintings and sculpture, spanning centuries and cultures, has been assembled at LACMA in the new exhibit “50 for 50” which is now open to the public.

“We put a diverse group of masterpieces in one exhibition,” Govan said, chuckling that it was a bit difficult to decide how to showcase such a diversity of work. They hung pieces side by side sometimes just for reasons like “they were both made of wood.”

"Two Women in the Garden" by Claude Monet.
“Two Women in the Garden” by Claude Monet.

’50 for 50′ is housed in the Resnick Pavilion and includes masterpieces by  Igres, Giambologna and Boucher. It also showcases works by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, and Vuillard, with Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, Warhol and Hockney some of the other super-stars of art on exhibit.

Stealing the show at its entry point: DeWain Valentine’s “Red Concave Circle” from 1970, a giant resin orb that is both transparent and reflective, creating wonderful optical distortions of the surroundings. It was donated by the Bank of America and could become another icon like LACMA’s  “Urban Light” on Wilshire.

David Hockney: "Studio Hollywood Hills House", 1982.
David Hockney: “Studio Hollywood Hills House”, 1982.


This Sunday, April 26th, is Free Community Day at LACMA, with free museum-wide gallery admission and an assortment of special activities all over campus, all day long. ’50 for 50′ is a free ticketed event, so stop by the box office or go online to ensure you can get in to see the show. Sunday’s event wraps up with a free concert of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, performed in the Bing Theater by the Los Angeles Symphonic Winds.

In just 50 years, LACMA, a county museum, has established itself as a world-class institution with the largest and strongest collection of art in the western United States, weighing in with some 120,000 objects and a beautiful campus. And the best part – it’s right here in the heart of our neighborhood.

Read more:

LA Times: LACMA’s Michael Govan finds great character in museum’s collection.

50 for 50
Now through September 14, 2015
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Wilshire Blvd.
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Julie Grist
Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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