The public opening today of the Robert O. Anderson Building at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a moment of particular elation for Earl A. Powell III, the director of the museum. Half of the permanent collection of 20th-Century art, acquired since Powell became the director in 1980, has never before been shown in the museum. And there, on the upper level, is a masterpiece that was at the top of his "curator's wish list."
That masterpiece is Georges Braque's "Still Life with Violin," painted in 1914, acquired only this year by the museum after searching for a perfect example of cubism. It hangs conspicuously as the first impression for visitors beginning their tour of this fecund period of artistic endeavor, its effect reinforced by an early Picasso on an adjoining wall, by a glimpse in the gallery beyond of that sublime garden scene, "Tea," that Henri Matisse painted five years later.
Hanging the collection in the new Anderson Building was not as complicated as we had imagined, Powell explained. A commitment to present the collection in chronological order dictated the general plan. And the architecture of the gallery space neither dictates the location of the art nor does it intrude.