Hammer Museum

Once in awhile you go to a museum and stumble on an exhibit that you weren’t expecting and it is just amazing.  That is what happened to us at the Hammer Museum.  The Hammer Museum is part of UCLA founded by Armand Hammer as a place to store his personal art collection.

kennyWe had never been and decided to go check it out.  Didn’t look to see what the installations were but thought we’d be surprised.  The museum is filled with 6 galleries and outside areas.  The front hall is filled with pieces by Kenny Scharf.  The exhibit was presented in memory of Tom Slaughter.  Both of these men’s children went to LREI (at one point) where our kids went to school.  I knew Tom, who was an artist and philanthropist so it was really nice to see that.

planeileneseagloveGallery 4 was called Still Life With Fish; Photograph from the Collection.  Amazing photography throughout.  This piece is from Ilene Segalove called Today’s Program: Jackson Pollock, Lavender Mist, 1973.  I thought it was funny.

pisarroGallery 5 was the Armand Hammer Collection.  Impressionist paintings took up most of the rooms. They were collected from 1965 until his death.  This Camille Pissarro really drew us both in.  There was a Sargeant that I should have taken a shot of.  Big fan.

catherineopieGallery 3 was Catherine Opie: Portraits.  I had seen these at the Guggenheim a few years back.

lookbeforeyouleapThen in Gallery 1 and 2 was called Look Before You Leap:  Black Mountain College 1933-1957.  John Rice founded this college in 1933.  He was a classics professor who had been fired from a college in Florida around his belief towards progressive education with a desire to get rid of rote memorization.  He began this college with the teachings of John Dewey in mind.  Our kids went to a school from k-12 (LREI) that was built on the same philosophies so needless to say I loved this exhibit and I am a huge believer in this education.

josephalbersdeskThis is from Josef Albers.  Albers studied painting and taught in Germany at the Bauhaus to major painters such as Paul Klee.  He left the country in 1933 due to the rise of Hitler.  The architect Philip Johnson got him a job as a professor at the newly formed Black Mountain College.  This was the first painting he made there.

aniThis is from his wife Anni Albers who he met as an artist in Germany.  Two prominent artists.

jacoblawrenceAlbers invited Jacob Lawrence to teach one summer at Black Mountain College.  This piece from Lawrence is called the Watch Maker, 1946 which is a reference to the college’s belief in the education of a whole person through many kinds of labor.

williemdekoonigAt Black Mountain the students of Albers were a breed of Modernists.  Willem de Koonig.

elainedekElaine de Koonig.

raushenbergRobert Rauschenberg

motherwellRobert Motherwell

sculptureMary Callery

danceDance was also avpiece of the education.  Merce Cunningham.  It was here that Merce established the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio.

cyMusic, teaching and learning (being a student and a teacher) was part of the education.  The scarcity of capital created the need for a work program which consisted of farming, cooking, repairing buildings and anything else needed even art shows and theatre productions on the weekend.  Here is a painting of Cy Twombly, also a teacher/student by Fielding Dawson.

ruthaswaRuth Asawa, a sculpture arrived in 1964 to teach the art of weaving wire.

johngageJohn Gage came several times to teach. This is the score from Water Music 1952.

ceramicsPottery took on a larger role after Albers left and the poet Charles Olson became the head.  Shoji Hamada came and taught a few pottery seminars there.

What an amazing piece of history so well curated.  The school closed in 1957 after opening in 1933. 24 years.  A truly liberal arts school that just couldn’t afford to remain open.  So unfortunate.  Incredible institution that was a hub for insanely creative people.  It is truly a shame that we have cut all of that from the public school’s budget.  The importance of art bleeds into every other thing we learn and that is the beauty of a progressive school.




Comments (Archived):

  1. CCjudy

    thank you – that is a wonderful art collection

    1. Gotham Gal

      I’m still thinking about it

  2. Susan Rubinsky

    Wow! Wow! Wow! What an amazing collection. Love that Pollack one too. It’s absurd in the best of ways.

  3. Ella Dyer

    Still supporting #STEM but, wish it was #STEAM to include the arts! (PS, Greetings from France where we enjoy a bit of art.)

    1. Gotham Gal


  4. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Ugh, this did not improve my attitude towards my kids’ homework 😉 Another delightful art post though, GG. Always love these.

    1. Gotham Gal

      If you see Michael Moore’s last film, the kids in (I believe Sweden) do not get homework, period. They are insanely well educated too.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Definitely will be seeing it. My little kids both *hate* school and the homework just seems pointless. Last night, son had to write 15 words 3x each. Looking for alternatives.It drives me crazy when people tell me, “All kids hate school,” like it’s ok. Why would we settle for that? I’ve watched the joy literally drain out of my kids since they started primary school.

        1. Gotham Gal

          That’s why I love progressive education.