Lacma acquires 60 works focused on black representation

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) today announced the acquisition of 60 works highlighting the representation of blacks. The acquisition was made in conjunction with the recently opened exhibition Black American portraits, which includes over 140 works representing a diverse black identity and, in the words of co-curators Christine Y. Kim and Liz Andrews, “abundant, nuanced and joyful”.

The Lacma curators had long intended to mount an exhibition of portraits from the museum’s collection, but following the murder of George Floyd and the nationwide protests last summer, they decided to focus on the depictions. black Americans. “We got into this idea that not only would we go through the collections,” says museum director Michael Govan, “but also expand what was in the collection and really show a greater diversity of black portrait images. Americans. “

As the museum does not have a budget dedicated to acquisitions, the new acquisitions were obtained through donations in cash and works from patrons.

“The main objective here has been to bring together works of art in all media to be included in the exhibition, Black American portraitsKim wrote via email. “There are works by black artists as well as non-black artists included in these acquisitions and in the exhibition like Alice Neel, Cathy Opie, Glenn Kaino and rafa Esparza. We have covered work in all media, including augmented reality (Ada Pinkston) and perpetually downloaded content (Kahlil Joseph’s BLKNWS), and across generations.

Kehinde Wiley, Yachinboaz Ben Yisrael II (2021) © Kehinde Wiley, photo by Joshua White, courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles

New acquisitions include works by two artists long on the museum’s curatorial wish list, Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley, whose portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama are currently on display at Lacma. (until January 2) as part of a national traveling exhibition organized with the National Portrait Gallery. Sherald’s oil painting An ocean far away (2020) is a promised gift from Hollywood powerhouse couple Willow Bay and Robert Iger; it shows two black figures on a beach holding and sitting on colorful surfboards. Wiley’s Yachinboaz Ben Yisrael II (2021) is a promised gift from Rich Paul, a prominent sports agent; the large portrait shows a trendy young black man wearing a red sweatshirt against a background of a stylized floral pattern. Both works are presented in Black American portraits.

Most of the 60 works added to Lacma’s permanent collection have been produced over the past two decades, including works by renowned artists such as Todd Gray, Kerry James Marshall, Lezley Saar, Lorna Simpson, Mickalene Thomas and Kara Walker. They also include younger artists such as Kim Dacres (No my name is not baby, 2020) and Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe (Lady on a blue sofa, 2019).

One acquisition was particularly close to the hearts of museum staff: Just what i feel (1972), a self-portrait of Cedric Adams in graphite. Adams worked as an art preparer in Lacma for over 25 years, and his powerful piece was purchased with donations from museum staff, including Govan and Kim.

Cedric Adams, Just what i feel (1972) © Cedric Adams, photo © Museum Associates / LACMA

  • Black American portraits at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until April 17, 2022

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