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Michael Webb
writes on modern architecture, design, and travel. He is the author of 26 books, most recently Modernist Paradise: Niemeyer House, Boyd Collection (Rizzoli) and Venice CA: Art +Architecture in a Maverick Community (Abrams). He travels widely in search of new and classic modern architecture and contributes to magazines around the world. Michael lives in the Neutra apartment that Charles and Ray Eames once called home.

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Michael Webb

Entries in LACMA (7)

Monday
Oct272014

Exhibition Review: Armor as Art Work

LACMA hosts Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, which showcases battle gear for high-ranking warriors from the 14th through the 19th centuries. Image courtesy LACMA.

Does everyone realize what a treasure LACMA is, and how far it has come in its 50 years as a stand-alone art museum? An encyclopedic, constantly growing collection is augmented by loan exhibitions, such as Haunted Screens, and two complementary shows on the military arts of pre-modern Japan. Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection has been seen in other museums, but one doubts it exerted the power it has here in an inspired installation by wHY Architecture in the Resnick Pavilion. From November 1st it will be complemented by Art of the Samurai: Swords, Paintings, Prints and Textiles, an exhibition of LACMA holdings and loans from local collectors. 

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Monday
Dec022013

Exhibition Review: Calder Explores the Third and Fourth Dimensions

Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic November 24, 2013–July 27, 2014 Los Angeles County Museum of Art © Calder Foundation, New York, photo © Fredrik Nilsen.Forget the shopping and enjoy the best seasonal gift that you or your friends could imagine: LACMA’s pitch-perfect Alexander Calder retrospective. Curated by Stephanie Barron and installed by Frank Gehry in the Resnick Gallery, it’s an ideal fusion of art and architecture, form and space, stillness and motion. Calder and Abstraction, from Avant-Garde to Iconic comprises 50 sculptures and maquettes that trace the artist’s career from 1931 to 1975, the year before his death. Most are grouped in shallow curved bays to encourage visitors to focus on one at a time and surrender to their leisurely rhythms. Gazing at the mobiles as a current of air animates one part and then another, you realize that Calder took the surreal abstractions of Joan Miró, whom he met in Paris in 1928, and added the third dimension of depth and the fourth of time. The compositions are constantly shifting so that each mobile incorporates a multitude.

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Sunday
Jul072013

Exhibitions: The Art of Light

By Michael Webb

You are lying on your back, gazing at an intensely blue sky. Any Angeleno can do that, but a lucky few will start the experience in James Turrell’s Perceptual Cell at LACMA. There, in your own private spaceship, the sky will darken and explode, in vibrating patterns of color and light that fill your field of vision. You are absorbed into this magical illusion and you lose all sense of time. And then, all too soon, the expanse of blue returns and you slide out of the capsule and are back in the everyday world.

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Tuesday
Feb142012

Another L.A.

Installation view Chris Burden Metropolis II, 2010 Three ½ hp DC motors with motor controllers, 12,000 custom manufactured die-cast cars (1,100 for operating, 10,900 for replenishing damaged cars), 26 HO-scale train sets with controllers and tracks (13 for operating, 13 for replenishing damages), steel, aluminum, shielded copper wire, copper sheet, brass, various plastics, assorted woods and manufactured wood products, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Dado Cubes, glass, ceramic and natural stone tiles, acrylic and oil-base paints, rubber, sundry adhesives. 9 ft., 9in. (H) x 28 ft., 3in. (W) x 19ft., 2in. (D). Courtesy of The Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation © Chris Burden Photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA

Next time you are gridlocked on the 405, imagine an alternative LA: a city in which cars speed without stalling or colliding on a network of freeways that loop around an eclectic array of towers. Trains run on elevated tracks and the ground lies forgotten, far below. It’s the city that Filippo Marinetti conceived in his Futurist Manifesto and Fritz Lang brought to the screen in Metropolis. Eighty-five years later, Chris Burden has revived the concept as Metropolis II and this mesmerizing installation is on long-term loan to LACMA, a few steps from Urban Light, his forest of vintage street lamps. Orson Welles described the RKO Studio as “the greatest train set a boy ever had,” and Metropolis II is a kinetic toy to delight frustrated drivers and their offspring.

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Thursday
Nov172011

Design Polymaths

Five celebrations of Charles and Ray Eames are on show in LA through early 2012, recalling the landmark exhibition of their work, which ended its international tour at LACMA, eleven years ago. That ambitious show attempted to bring all the designers’ achievements under one roof, and it overwhelmed many visitors.  Small, specialized exhibits make the Eames’s genius feel more visceral.

© 2011 Eames Office, LLC (eamesoffice.com)

The best starting point is the iconic house (203 Chattauqua Blvd, Pacific Palisades). The living room has been emptied and its furnishings are displayed in a recreation of the house as a highlight of the LACMA exhibition “Living in a Modern Way: California Design, 1930-1965” (5905 Wilshire Blvd, through June 3). That gives the Eames House Foundation the opportunity to

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