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LACMA invites artists in for a chat

The director's series will let the public sit in on talks with Koons, Irwin and other `stars.'

January 12, 2007|Diane Haithman | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is launching a new lecture series that will feature director Michael Govan engaging in one-on-one conversations with contemporary artists.

"The Director's Series: Conversations With Michael Govan" begins Feb. 1 with Govan and artist Jeff Koons discussing the museum's exhibition "Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images" as well as the influence of 20th century art on contemporary artists and Koons' recent work. The free event is "sold out" in the sense that a reservation is required and all seats have been taken.

Later installments in the three-part series are a March 8 conversation with Robert Irwin, designer of the Getty Center gardens, about the artist's "site-generated works," and an April 12 discussion with L.A.-based video installation artist Diana Thater on the mythology of the America West in art and film, concurrent with the museum's March 4-June 3 exhibition "The Modern West: American Landscapes,1890."

"I have a lot of friends who are artists and had spoken about getting artists involved not just in showing their work but in helping to shape the museum -- I guess John Baldessari is the clearest example so far," Govan said, referring to the Baldessari-designed installation for the Magritte show, which runs through March 4.

For the show, Baldessari created an upside-down world by carpeting the galleries with a woven version of a Magritte-style blue sky with white clouds and papering the ceiling with images of freeway intersections.

In light of that goal, the conversation series "just makes sense," Govan continued. "I chose artists who I already know well. These aren't the only artists we're talking to, but these are three that will be working in some way at the museum."

Govan said that, rather than inviting the artists to discuss only their own work, the conversations will take shape around existing and upcoming LACMA projects or other natural connections with the community. Koons, Govan said, "had something to say about Magritte, so it made sense to do that while Magritte was up." And, along with discussing his Getty project and the artist's master plan for Dia: Beacon museum in New York, Irwin will reveal details of his as-yet-undisclosed plans for LACMA.

Thater, who teaches film and video at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design, said her discussion with Govan will look at the darker side of the American cowboy.

"My question is always, can the mythology and the truth be reconciled? The truth is that the land was stolen and the native inhabitants were massacred," Thater said. "Everything today is about closure -- well, there's a lot of things in which there's no closure. It's complicated."

Call (323) 857-6512 for more information.

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