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The Hammer Museum (re)opens to Los Angeles


The cultural center ends more than 20 years of renovations with a project headed by the architect Michael Maltzan that aims to make it more accessible

The intersection of Westwood and Wilshire avenues is one of the busiest in West Los Angeles.

Westwood is the preferred route to reach the main UC campus to the north, while Wilshire, one of the most iconic streets, runs west to east, connecting the ocean to Hollywood.

A few steps from that crossroads, a bronze sculpture seven meters high and weighing seven tons has been found for a few days.


, by the Los Angeles artist Sanford Biggers, is an African figure seated on a throne and holding a torch waiting for those who want to ask him a question in exchange for an offering.

The work was commissioned in 2021 by the Rockefeller Center in New York, but it can be seen on the west coast until March 2024 in this corner of Los Angeles.

His presence highlights the new face of the Hammer, a museum that opened its doors 32 years ago, but has completed a transformation after a series of renovations that spanned two decades.


inaugurates a new space in the Hammer, a pedestal for monumental works that from a busy avenue intends to attract many to the free museum.

“The Hammer has finished its evolution from an inward-looking institution to a new form, where museums are connected to the artists, community, life and cultural future of this city,” architect Michael Maltzan said Friday. , the one in charge of carrying out the vision of Ann Philbin, the director of the institution since 1999.

The Hammer was opened in 1990, just days before the death of the man who gave it its name and its vast collection of art, Armand Hammer.

The son of a Russian émigré, Hammer was one of the industrial titans of the American West.

He met Lenin, who offered him to exploit an asbestos concession.

The business failed, but the relationship blossomed instead.

The young businessman asked him to exploit graphite in return and became a millionaire selling pencils.

Hammer became one of the American businessmen who enriched the most from the relationship between his country and the Soviet Union thanks to his links with Brezhnev or Gorbachev.

'Oráculo' inaugurates the outdoor exhibition space of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. ETIENNE LAURENT (EFE)

Hammer passed away at the age of 92.

His art collection was filled with great 19th-century European masters such as Van Gogh, Gustave Moreau, Paul Gaugin, Claude Monet, and Paul Cézanne.

It was valued at about $400 million at the time of his death, sparking litigation between some of his heirs.

The controversial actor Armie Hammer is the great-grandson of the almighty Armand and is listed as honorary director of the museum along with his brother Viktor.

The museum is located in what used to be the Occidental oil company building, which Armand built in the 1950s until it became, 30 years later, the eighth in the country.

Maltzan's project has eliminated the pinkish marble in the reception area and the corporate office flavor left by the original architect, the modernist Edward Larrabee.

He gave Maltzan his go-ahead to turn the space into what it is today.

“If the function of a building changes, its form needs to evolve as well,” said Maltzan, who opened a bridge last year that became a viral phenomenon.

The new reception is today covered with 360 kilos of red thread in a spider web produced by the Berlin-based Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota.

La red

(2023) is his first large ephemeral installation, created in three and a half weeks.

It is based on the Eastern belief that children are invisibly tied to everyone in their lives by a loop that comes from their fingers.

It is a nod to the meeting point and connection that the museum intends to become in the city.

The ephemeral installation 'The Net', in the new lobby of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.Jeff McLane (Photo by Jeff McLane)

The name Resnick will share prominence from now on with that of Hammer.

It is contributed by Lynda and Stewart Resnick, who donated $30 million of the $156 million Philbin has raised over 24 years.

The Rensiks are among the most prominent farmers in the United States and are worth $8 billion thanks to the Wonderful Nut Company.

The donation has put his name on the façade of the center.

It cannot be said that this is the relaunch of the Hammer because the museum never completely closed its doors, except for the pandemic, while Maltzan's studio transformed several of the spaces.

Over the course of more than two decades, the Billy Wilder Screening Room (2006), a Central Courtyard (2012) and the Leonard Nimoy and Susan Bay Studio (2015) have been added.

In addition, the architect has expanded the exhibition space by almost 3,700 square meters, redistributing the gallery spaces, given the impossibility of the museum growing physically.

In 2015, the University purchased the building and has a contract to manage it for the next century.

Maltzan has shown the revolutionary power of a window.

In another of the new exhibition spaces, 16 laser beams draw a sculpture of light in what used to be a bank.

Those who appreciate the work


(2021), by the American Rita McBride, will be able to see the surveillance cameras and the vault of what was the bank branch.

"I like the context of corporate ruin that the space gives to the work," said the artist in the presentation this Friday.

The work, which is best seen at night and is at street level, can be seen from outside the museum, on Wilshire Avenue.

The occasion has served for the center to exhibit a selection of contemporary art, its main collection.

With the arrival of Ann Philbin, the museum deepened its commitment to young artists, especially those based in Los Angeles.

Since 2005, the Hammer has purchased more than 4,000 pieces to feed this collection, one of the five that make up a collection with more than 50,000 objects.

Together in Time

shows 70 works, some for the first time.

Works by John Baldessari, Robert Gober, Sasha Gordon, Mario Ayala, Rafa Esparza, Tishan Hsu, among others, appear.

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2023-03-28

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