Monday, April 30, 2012

Something New at the Museum

Francesca Woodman: House #3, Providence, RI 1976
Yesterday Gabriel and I had a "very LA day": crepes at the Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax, lunch from the Dosa Truck and the Fresh Fries Truck (who knew that goat cheese and raspberry preserves could taste so good on fries?) and a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

I've generally been disappointed by the shows we've seen there in the past, but I wanted to catch a new exhibit of pre-Columbian mexican art so we took a chance. We had forgotten that there was also an exhibit of female surrealist artwork still up that friends had recommended as a cut above. Turns out that they were right!

The show is called In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States. It includes many of the works you might expect by artists like Frida Khalo (wonderful to see in person) and Kay Sage, as well as a lot of work that was new to me. Dorothea Tanning, for instance, was a name I had heard but whose work I was quite unfamiliar with. If you don't know who she is, do yourself a favor and find out.

And then there was Francesca Woodman's photographs. I had never even heard of Woodman before, but I found her work so intriguing that I had to find out more. Turns out that she died so young (at the age of 22) that her body of work is quite small. Only a quarter of it has ever been available to the public.
Francesca Woodman: From Angel Series, Rome, 1977-1978
It seems that she came from a family of artists: her mother Betty Woodman is a sculpter, her father George a painter, and she herself seems to have been something of a prodigy. Sadly, she died after jumping from the roof of a loft in Manhattan in 1981, a full five years before her work was publicly shown. Today, over 30 years later, it is in the permanent collections of several major museums.

Francesca Woodman: Untitled, Providence, RI 1975-1976

Almost all of her pieces are petite, just 8x10 inches or smaller, inviting close examination. The ghostly imagery is irresistible. It's sad to think that she could have still been working today, as she would have only been in her early 50s by now. But I'm glad that she left behind as many images as she did, and I'm glad that Gabriel and I spent some of a sunny LA day in a hushed museum, discovering new things. 


  1. Very interesting pictures! Wish I could have seen it.

  2. It's a fantastic show. Hopefully it'll travel!

  3. I pondered to myself recently what were the most important things in my life. The answer seems to be clear that art was up there in importance. Why? Frankly, I don't really know. May be someone here can enlighten me?
    As was my wont when I have some free time, I browsed the marvelous site,, where they keep thousands of digital images for customers to select to have printed into handsome canvas prints for their homes.
    This image jumped out to jolt my reveries: Still life with bread, by the Cubist Georges Braque. Is art like this picture, as essential as bread and water, or should I say bread and wine?


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