We’re in LA this weekend to visit our son, and we spent most of yesterday at the LA County Museum of Art. I’d never been to this museum before, and it was eye-opening!

"Urban Light" installation at the LA County Museum

“Urban Light” installation at the LA County Museum

We were lucky to get a docent led tour of the highlights of the eclectic museum collection–ranging from Assyrian wall reliefs to the Italian Renaissance to the Dutch Masters to Impressionism and Modern Art. It was fascinating to see the different influences at play over the years of history. Some Renaissance painters learned to pose their figures by studying Greek and Roman sculpture, for example. As an art history major, I was entranced.

At left is an installation piece of 202 reclaimed street lights that have been painted gray and set up outside the museum entrance. I really liked the play of lines between the lamp tops with the angles of the building behind it and the palm trees on the right. The artist is Chris Burden.

"La Gerbe" ceramic tile installation by Matisse at LACMA

“La Gerbe” ceramic tile installation by Matisse at LACMA

Another favorite was La Gerbe, a large ceramic tile piece designed by Henri Matisse for a private home in LA in 1953. It’s based on his cut-out series, but was created in tile because it was intended for an open air space.  I could look at this for hours–the colors, the shapes, the composition are all just amazing.

Alexander Calder mobiles - LACMA sculpture garden

Alexander Calder mobiles – LACMA sculpture garden

And of course, my favorite piece was two Alexander Calder mobiles that were installed in a reflecting pool outside. I could look at these for a long time too.

I got some ideas for new texture from the Assyrian relief pieces too–the swirls and feather shapes used to delineate hair and beards were wonderful. I didn’t take pictures inside the galleries because it seemed inappropriate, but I made some sketches when I got home.

I treasure these artist inspiration days–I never tire of revisiting my favorite art and artists, and I usually come away with some new influences for my own work. I’d highly recommend taking time out to visit a museum or gallery, or just keep your eyes open for new things when you’re out and about–you never know what you’ll find!