Sunday, October 02, 2011

Pacific Standard Time

About ten years ago, the Getty Research Institute launched an initiative to study the postwar art movement in Los Angeles, 1945-1980.  Grants were awarded to art institutions throughout Southern California with the ultimate goal of mounting a massive exhibit, opening in several sites this weekend.  Over the next six months, the show, called Pacific Standard Time, will be on view in over 60 museums from Santa Barbara to San Diego.  

As members of the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA), Tim and I got to preview LACMA’s contribution to this amazingly historic event last Thursday evening.  Focusing on mid-century west coast design, LACMA’s exhibit begins in the 1920s and ends in the late 1960s, chronicling how local art trends have influenced what we’ve come to know as the “California lifestyle.”

It’s a wonderful retrospective, examining everything from a magnificent aluminum Airstream trailer (which is the first thing visitors see) to a futuristic Studebaker Avanti automobile (midway through the exhibit), from Bauer pottery to Barbie and her “dream house” (sigh!).  The high point is the recreation of the living room from L.A.’s own Eames house, one of the most architecturally significant homes of the 20th century.  There are also lots of fabulous examples of mid-century furniture and magazine shoots of modern homes built in the 1940s and ‘50s, plus album covers, textiles, books, kitchenware, artwork, jewelry (looking surprisingly contemporary) and even swimware.  It’s enough to make one weep for the days when style was everything.

We didn’t know picture-taking was allowed (without flash, of course), so snapped these photos with Tim’s iPhone.  The LACMA exhibit runs through March 2012.  The next time I go I’ll take the good camera and shoot many more photos.  For now, here's just a tiny flavor of postwar California:

P.S.  We also recently saw the Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA, which is on till the end of October.  It's a must-see for all Burton fans.  For some reason, Burton has kept every piece of art he ever created since adolescence and it’s all displayed here.  Perhaps too much of a good thing?

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