|Helen Lundeberg, Self-Portrait, 1944|
I know ya'll must think me a self-indulgent, high falutin' kind of gal who gallivants around the city doing all sorts of things while her husband and children toil at work and school.
Well, this week I was a self-indulgent, high falutin' kind of gal and satisfied nearly every impulse I have toward viewing art, hearing poetry, laughing my ass off and eating good food.
And I have no regrets.
Yesterday, I finally made it to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's exhibit of American and Mexican female surrealists. The show is called Wonderland, and it's spectacular. I stood right up close to many of Frida Kahlo's most famous paintings, like this:
|The Two Fridas, 1939|
I saw it out of the corner of my eye when I was standing across the room, and I could hardly bear to walk over to it. When I did stand in front of it, though, it brought tears to my eyes. It's hard to see it in the above copy, but the Frida on the right holds a picture of Diego Rivera, her husband. The Frida on the left has cut the vessel that leads from that photo and through the two hearts.
I also saw this:
|Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940|
I learned that for the female artists, surrealism was a path toward the "marvelous," a surrealist concept about the disruption of identity and the disorientation of reality in pursuit of the revelatory. The art displayed was about fragmentation of identity, the oppression of patriarchal systems, sexuality, the body and motherhood or lack thereof. In addition to paintings, there were sculptures, photographs, installations and short films. I wandered through the exhibit for nearly two hours, thrilled to see and feel so much intelligence, emotion, beauty and rawness in one space.
This is the only photo that I took because I hate when people photograph in museums -- it looked like male anatomy, but on closer inspection was a kind of bone. I think. And I forgot to write down the artist, so I apologize for that, too.
One of my favorite paintings was by the artist Sylvia Fein, titled Lady with her Baby. I found it disconcerting -- the crossed arms of the mother and her seeming dis-attachment from the baby perched on top of her head. The green of her jacket was gorgeous.
Francesca Woodman's photos were disturbing and beautiful. She committed suicide at the age of 22 by jumping out of a window in New York City. I stood in front of this one for a long time:
|It Must Be Time for Lunch Now, 1979|
Despite the enormity of their work, many of the surrealist artists were overlooked and dismissed as irrelevant. However, many of them considered camouflage necessary, in order to create decoys and to keep secret their magic, alchemical explorations (from the collection's book Wonder, The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States).
Afterward, I wandered outside on Wilshire Blvd. where twenty or so food trucks were lined up, hawking their wares. This guy played some music, right there on the sidewalk:
I settled on Maine Lobster:
and ate this very simple, traditional lobster roll while listening to some ragtime in the California sunshine. At 3:00, I stood up, got back in my car and was back on duty, fortified.