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Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is an art museum in Los Angeles is on Museum Row. It is the largest art museum in the western United States. It holds more than 150,000 works of art spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present.

A Tour of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Highlights of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

  • “The Raising of Lazarus” by Rembrandt
    • “The Raising of Lazarus” by Rembrandt, depicts the scene from the New Testament Bible. For the creation of this composition, Rembrandt experimented with drawings and etchings on this subject with differing configurations. This scene is in a tomb with Christ standing in the cave with his hand raised to perform the miracle. Rembrandt represents Lazarus’s rising as caused by Christ’s forceful gesture and his faith. Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha look on in amazement, as do the other spectators.

      The astounded witnesses’ expressions record successive states of awareness and awe. The dramatic darkness of the cave is in contrast to the subtle colors in the costumes. The glinting highlights of the quiver and scabbard hanging on the wall were Lazarus’ weapons, as according to medieval legend, Lazarus was a soldier.

  • “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame” by  Georges de La Tour
    • “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame” by Georges de La Tour depicts Mary Magdalene and was inspired by several themes popular with artists during the 1600s, such as the cult of Magdalene, melancholy and repentance. De La Tour, the French Baroque painter who painted this masterpiece in 1640, has given it a feeling of philosophical meditation that provides the opportunity for meditation and reflection.

      Mary Magdalene’s body is enveloped in mysterious darkness, and her face brightened only by the candle. On her knees is a skull, and on the table are some books and a lit candle wick floating in a glass of oil. There is also a wooden cross and a blood-stained scourge. The skull represents a play on words, representing Golgotha, the place of Christ’s crucifixion, as well as the Aramaic word for skull. All the objects in this painting reference the themes of the repentance and the trials sent by God.

  • Shiva as the Lord of Dance
    • “Shiva as the Lord of Dance” depicts the Hindu God Shiva and combines in a single image his roles as creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe and conveys the concept of the never-ending cycle of time. Shiva has many guises and many representations in art, but the most popular is as a dancing figure within the arch of flames, called Shiva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance. Nataraja is a depiction of the Hindu god Shiva as the cosmic ecstatic dancer. The pose and artwork are described in many Hindu texts, and the dance relief is featured in major Hindu temples of Shaivism. It is an image seen in museums and temples across the world, and it is rich in iconography and hidden meaning.

      The French sculptor Auguste Rodin wrote that the sculpture of Shiva as the Lord of Dance has:  “what many people cannot see—the unknown depths, the core of life. There is grace in elegance, but beyond grace, there is perfection.”

  • “Cliff Dwellers” by George Bellows
    • “Cliff Dwellers” by George Bellows depicts the density and crowds on New York City’s Lower East Side, on a hot summer’s day. The painting, made in 1913, highlights the city’s explosive population growth. The city grew from one-and-a-half to five million in the forty years proceedings this depiction, primarily due to immigration. In this painting, people spill out of tenement buildings onto the streets, stoops, and fire escapes. Laundry flaps overhead, and a street vendor hawks his goods from his pushcart amid all the traffic. In the background, a trolley car heads toward Vesey Street.

      Many of the new arrivals, Italian, Jewish, Irish, and Chinese, crowded into tenement houses on the Lower East Side. Among them were thousands of Eastern European Jews, who found temporary or permanent shelter along streets such as East Broadway, the setting for Cliff Dwellers. Cliff Dwellers skillfully conveys the sense of congestion, overpopulation, and the impact of the city on its inhabitants. The living quarters of many of the Cliff Dwellers were small, dense, and dark, which is illustrated in this composition. The painting also shows how industrialization had impacted the working-class lifestyle at that time.

  • Plato” by Jusepe de Ribera
    • “Plato” by Jusepe de Ribera is shown looking to the heavens and towards the light to symbolize his significant influence on Saint Augustine and, as a consequence, Christianity. Plato advocated a belief in the immortality of the soul, and several of his famous dialogues end with long speeches imagining the afterlife.

      The asceticism depicted in this composition was in keeping with Spanish Catholicism and is distinctive of the saints and philosophers that Ribera painted. Plato is portrayed with deep creases in his worn face, but with sturdy hands that hold what he treasures.

      Plato is portrayed wearing ragged robes to symbolize the “beggar philosopher,” a popular rhetorical device in the seventeenth century. Plato is shown surrounded by a light reminiscent of Caravaggio. This painting is part of a series of six portraits of ancient philosophers commissioned by various wealthy and powerful sponsors.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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– Benjamin Franklin


Photo Credit: Carol M. Highsmith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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