A former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple built by Millard Sheets in 1961, the building now hosts the vibrant Collection of the Marciano Art Foundation. Inside, it is home to over 1,500 works of art by more than two hundred artists from the 1990s to the present. The MAF collection was born in 2006 and includes works by Doug Aitken, El Anatsui, Mark Bradford, Theaster Gates, Alex Israel, Anish Kapor, Gabriel Kuri, Takashi Murakami, Gabriel Orozco, Gerhard Richter, Tomas Saraceno, Analia Saban, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Ai Weiwei to name a few; it was founded by French brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano, the former driving forces behind Guess.
The Marciano Art Foundation is the new museum in town; it opened its doors to the public less than two months ago on May 25th, 2017 with an exhibition titled “Unpacking the Marciano Collection,” conceived by Guest Curator Philipp Kaiser. The exhibition simultaneously accentuates the architecture of the building and the current state of the collection which acknowledges its future potential, while rummaging through its origins.
The museum space recently redesigned by Thai-born, Japan-Educated, L.A.-based architect Kulapat Yantrasast, opens up to a magnificent foyer featuring endless rows of gold accents over what seems to be the original marble of the main structure; which generates a beautiful contrast to the few artworks selected for display in this welcoming space. Another floor is exclusively hosting as of now a unique sculptural theater with multiple channel HD videos, soundtracks, and even 3d animations. While the main gallery upstairs carefully hides a few key components to the untrained eye, such as Millard Sheet’s mosaic that has remained as a part of the structure yet lies hidden behind a wall not to prominently take focus from the rest of the artworks exhibited in this room.
Visitors are guided through the Marciano Art Foundation with a great level of clever facetiousnes. Among the most amusing instances, 24-inch Copper (FedEx…) by Walead Beshty welcomes visitors into the main space, alongside Christopher Wools’ “ANDIFYOUCANTTAKEAJOKEYOUCANGETTHEFUCKOUTOFMYHOUSE,” or even the whimsical feel of the room devoted to Takashi Murakami and Paul McCarthy. But outside of some much needed moments of laughter, there are a few sobering components like “They Finally Broke the Pot of Wisdom,” by El Anatsui, or Rirkrit Tiravanija’s “Untitled (Los dias de esta sociedad son contados/18 de diciembre de 2009),” title which roughly translates to “The Days in this society are counted.”
The collection contains key artists from around the world. Philipp Kaiser did a great job highlighting the unique features of the collection, as well as accentuate the multiple interests of the collectors themselves, from figurative sculptures to abstract paintings and installation pieces that include everything from flashing neon – to folded marble.
It is too early to tell what kind of relationship we will have with the Marciano Art Foundation — mostly because our relationship has just begun, we just met, this was our first date. We did find it to be sophisticated, eccentric, stunning, satirically eclectic and oh so exciting, intelligent, stylish and mysterious; all good things in both people and museums, but it is too early to tell where we are heading.
Will it call us again? Was this a one-time date? What does our future hold? Our date was a bit awkward at the beginning, we hit a weird conversation pause (no walls labels on the first floor) and we found navigating through our first moments a bit confusing, the exhibition on the first floor is more of an experience and less of an exhibition... hello the wig museum?... sure ok, so he is eclectic this one. Thankfully by the third floor, we were enjoying each others company just fine.
The Marciano Art Foundation put its best foot forward on the third floor: beautiful artworks from renown artists graced the entire exhibition floor, polished, refined, we laughed, we disagreed on a few key points, but overall this was a great first impression, I mean no one is perfect, but boy is MAF handsome, and smart, and all sorts of other amazing things. We will for sure keep in touch and see if this relationship flourishes. I am excited to see where things head for us, will programming kick in soon? Will their marketing strategy keep MAF in my mind constantly? Will they have delicious treats are their cafe? (which was o so closed the day of our date). We are eager to know if this place will be like the Broad where you only develop a real desire to visit once, or if this is more like LACMA where you make it a point to visit every time you drive near it.
The Marciano Art Foundation and us have a long way to go before we can develop a true friendship. However, I do see great potential in this museum and we'll continue to actively engage with it to see where this goes… wish us luck!