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All The Shows At The Hammer Right Now Are Great.

All The Shows At The Hammer Right Now Are Great.

We had one of those rare weekends where we had a Saturday with nothing planned. How do you fill your time on days like that? Exploring what art museums in Los Angeles are up to! We thought about going to LACMA but the Graphic Design show at the Hammer was a bit more pressing for us to see. We had no expectation of the show or of what else was currently up in the museum: what a delightful surprise to find that every single thing at the Hammer was absolutely brilliant! You need to make a visit as soon as you can.

Admittedly, the Westwood art destination hasn’t really been on our minds lately as we’re still quite intellectually hungover from the Summer’s colossal, in-your-face, NOW NOW NOW!! Made In L.A. After discussing and analyzing that show tirelessly for months, we were all Hammered out. With the entrance of the Graphic Design show, we were intrigued and hearing so many buzzes from designer friends (AKA, 70% of the people we know) that the show is the show in town to see. It is very good however all of the exhibitions currently up collectively make for a super stellar museum experience. Here are their current listings…

Graphic Design: Now In Production
Graphic Design is a celebration of practically all new design happening around us in text. It sweeps from super contemporary magazines to posters to branding to information mapping and more: the show goes above and beyond contextualizing modern graphic design and sharing brilliant examples from all over the world within the discipline. What is most remarkable about the show is how it is installed, which truly is the best installed show I have seen in years. It’s fun, it’s lively, it’s well designed (DUH.), and gives you feast upon feast of worlds to dive into and interact with. The show is open through January 6.

Lucy Raven
Artist Lucy Raven has a video installed just outside of the Graphic Design show that is this mesmerizing, hypnotizing analysis of test patterns used in media. She’s looped them together and found ways to match them up to form an almost seamless, flowing flipbook of images. Standing in this room and staring at the center of these quickly flashing images you find yourself somewhat lost in triangles turning to diamonds turning to squares, travelling in and out of color all set to the dry hum of a quickly working projector. Call me insane, but I could have watched this for hours. This will be coming down January 20.

A Strange Magic
A Strange Magic was the most unexpected exhibit because, um, it sounds really boring. This exhibit focuses on Gustave Moreau creating Salome Dancing Before Herod. The painting is one of the best known paintings in the Hammer’s permanent collection and is the product of a lot of late nineteenth century work on Moreau’s behalf. Straying from being “Hey, look at this old art.” it is an examination of an artist’s process and a deconstructing of everything that goes into making a painting. Placed in that strange U-shaped room at the museum, the exhibit starts with drawings of figures: Moreau repeatedly illustrates this woman–“Salome”–dancing and performing and figuring out who she is. They become more and more intricate and ornate and, then, you reach the painting and see how all of Moreau’s practice in creating led to this incredibly detailed painting. Encountering the finished piece makes you feel like you completed the painting because you know every single reference within it. It’s a great, surprising little show. This closes December 9.

Zarina: Paper Like Skin
Another unexpected show: Paper Like Skin by Zarina. Zarina is an Indian born American artist who makes work on and with paper, the material being a conduit for graphic and minimal work. Paper for her is meditative and a means to interpret nature and forms. Her work includes sculptures made from paper pulp, wood cuts, and many pieces where paper–and the removal of it–speaks to this substance and how delicate and beautiful it is. After A Strange Magic, this was the second most unexpected exhibit to encounter. This closes December 30.

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu
On the mid-level is an art piece that is super frightening in the best way possible. It’s an installation/sculpture they’ve created that is super haunting and response to East-West relationships titled I Am Here. You enter a darkened room where there is a small hole with a spot on it. You notice there is an eye staring at you and can tell that the hole it looks through was cut out recently. Turning a corner, you find who the eye is attached to: a very large man in desert gear and huge gun standing watch. The figure is super lifelike and speaks to everything from cultural voyeurism to literal terrorist threats. This piece is on display through January 6.

Your Land / My Land: Election ’12
The lobby has a very election focused simple installation by Joathan Horowitz titled Your Land / My Land. In a small room there are two televisions back-to-back at the center of a room. The left side of the room has blue carpet and the right side has red carpet. If you view from the blue side, the television plays live CNN. If you stand on the red side, the television plays live Fox News. Barack Obama’s portrait is hung on the wall and a portrait of Mitt Romney is leaned against the wall on the ground. It’s a very subtle, interactive art piece that basically sums up everything we have all been going through for the past six months or so. It was great to encounter it the Saturday before Election Day–and you only have until November 18 to see it. It’s really great.

There is a lot happening at the Hammer right now and everything is good. You can see all of these shows on view through November 18 as that is when Your Land comes down. The rest will be up through December/January-ish. If you’ve been looking for a good museum day destination, this would be perfect for you. Bring your Bank of America debit card, too: your admission is free that way.

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