On one of my weekly adventures through the once-winding streets of historic LA, I ended at dusk with a First Friday visit to the LACMA – the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Not only was the club bumping (only in this posh city is there a packed bar with a graffiti artist and a DJ at the museum), but my, oh my, did they set the bar for contemporary exhibits.
Despite the fact that the maze-like rose garden is no longer, at first sight is, of course, the Chris Burden installation entitled Urban Light. 200 beautifully restored cast iron street lamps (made famous by a certain Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher movie that I won’t say I’ve seen 4 times) stand tall and burn a warm glow against the Wilshire skyline.
And after perusing through Warhols and a long wait at what appears to be just a political art piece behind glass, an elevator the size of my apartment takes you to the ground floor of the Ahmanson Building. There are Picassos (that gorgeous blue period Portrait of Sebastia Juñer Vidal, my personal favorite), a Magritte (La trahison des images – the ‘this is not a pipe’ painting), and even a Giacometti. Sigh, if only they could get their hands on a William Kentridge exhibition…
LACMA also has the best executed period exhibit I have ever seen; except perhaps the Met’s Egyptian rooms. California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way” is a phenomenal (and quite large) display of mid-century design in California and is inclusive of urban development and architecture, furniture, advertising, clothing, jewelry, and even a 1936 airstream!!
But naturally, what do we care most about? The clothes!!! And my, my are there bathing and play suits galore. Check it out –>
Two-pieces in bright “California” colors fit 30’s and 40’s bodies like a glove thanks to Fred Cole’s ingenuity – shirred knit fabric with elastic thread!
The below two-piece swimsuit was designed without the use of elastic (due to WW2 restrictions on rubber) and manufactured by a company that also made parachutes for soldiers. Hence, the color of the one on display was dubbed “parachute white”. Notice the lace-up sides of the brief –>
And of course, the Esther Willams suit! This gold lame version was a promotional item for her movie Million Dollar Mermaid and designed by Fred Cole.
My favorite garment of all, though, was this stunning cold war wiggle dress designed by Gilbert Adrien, the head designer for MGM from 1928 to 1941. As part of his collection The Atomic 50s, this dress is purposefully reminiscent of mushroom clouds and fabrics blasting off the surface.
And even darling Barbie donned Mad Men-esque dresses.