Something Old is New Again

June 23, 2009

As part of my self imposed Month of Art, I visited the Greek and Roman galleries last week to see one of LACMA’s iconic pieces—The Hope Athena. She’s a commanding marble sculpture who resides in an enviable space awash with natural light and gleaming dark wood floors. (Most of our gallery space does not allow for windows because of the deteriorating effect sunlight can have on objects; marble is obviously immune.) Nothing could have prepared me for what I encountered; it was an experience that amounted to perhaps my most thrilling art moment at LACMA.

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The Hope Athena, 2nd century A.D., with Welcome, 2009, Choi Jeong-Hwa (detail)

The backdrop for The Hope Athena and the other exquisite ancient objects was none other than Welcome, which we wrote about last week. Somehow I never put two and two together—the huge windows in the third-floor Greek and Roman galleries allow visitors to see the backside of Welcome, which drapes the exterior of the Ahmanson Building as part of Your Bright Future, opening this weekend.

You don’t need me to explain what is so mesmerizing about the new/old juxtaposition, or how powerful the element of surprise can be. The result of the two combined, in my opinion, amounts to the most accidentally spectacular permanent collection installation around.

Allison Agsten