The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles was built in 1990 next to the company building of Armand Hammer, an oil industry entrepreneur who founded the museum. The museum was little known until 1999 when Ann Philbin became director and began a 24-year renovation project. The museum has renovated its building, launched new programs, and pursued its identity as a leading contemporary art museum in Los Angeles. The $90 million renovation project was completed in April 2023.
Over the past 24 years, the building has changed, the contemporary collection has grown, an online platform has been developed, and annual attendance has increased from 35,000 to more than 250,000. The new building includes not only an exhibition hall but also a theater for public programs, and the theater hosts more than 300 public programs each year. According to Philbin, this public orientation is shared by other museums in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Lucas Museum are also currently undergoing renovations.
The redesigned museum lobbies are dedicated to commissioned works by artists with large-scale installations. The first commission is by Berlin-based Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota (b. 1972), now presenting an organic installation using red thread.
Mexican artist Aliza Nisenbaum (b. 1977) interacts and builds relationships with people before painting their portraits. Based on this relationship, she seeks to capture and reveal their humanity from their facial expressions, posture, and the environment they are sitting in.
Nisenbaum’s solo show “Queens, Lindo y Querido” is on view at the Queens Museum through September 10. Drawn from Vincente Fernández’s popular song “Mexico, Lindo y Querido,” the title means ‘Queens, beautiful and beloved.’ The exhibition records the artist’s interactions with people in the Queens Museum and the nearby Corona neighborhood over the past years.
The artist began engaging with the residents of the Corona neighborhood in 2012 while volunteering in the ‘Immigrant Movement International.’ In the hyper-local, multi-year project, she taught feminism to Spanish-speaking local students to teach them English and created a series of portraits of the students and their families. Alongside the series are portraits of museum staffs and works by participants from Nissenbaum’s workshops.
Mexico National Museum of Art (Museo Nacional De Arte México, MUNAL) is presenting “Monet: Lights of Impressionism” through August 27, organized by the Mexican Ministry of Culture and the National Institute of Arts and Literature. Although there are only three Monet works on display, two among them are presented for the first time in Mexico, attracting wide media attention to the exhibition. ‘Waterlilies (1908)’ and ‘Valle Buona (1884)’ are from the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art in the United States, and ‘Landscape in Port-Villez (1883)’ is from the collection of the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City.
In addition to these three works, the exhibition features works by Mexican Impressionists from MUNAL’s collection. The participating artists are Joaquín Clausell (b. 1866), Francisco Romano Guillemín (b. 1883), Armando García Núñez (b. 1883), Mateo Herrera (b. 1867), and José María Velasco (b. 1840). Their paintings of Mexico’s flora, mountains, volcanoes, and valleys reveal the influence of the Western Impressionists’ gaze and technique of capturing the impression of the moment.