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Levitated Mass Documentary Opens in NYC

levitated mass

Now New Yorkers can get the story behind the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s rock star, Levitated Mass (2012), a 456-foot-long slot over which is placed a 340-ton granite megalith. The process of installing the Michael Heizer artwork, which entailed a $10 million, 22-city tour for the boulder and its custom-made trailer, is the subject of a documentary by Doug Pray (Art & Copy, Surfwise) that opens today at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

“I had always wanted to do a film about L.A., so this seemed about as L.A. as it could get,” Pray told us earlier this year. “The idea that they had to get permits and permissions to allow a giant rock to roll through their town, all in the name of conceptual art, was absurdly entertaining, and often drew shrugs and confused laughter, and controversy.” Levitated Mass weaves together Heizer’s biography, the dreams of a major museum, and the uniting of a city—all while proving that it is possible to make a fascinating film about a massive rock.
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Mediabistro Job Fair

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Walker Art Center Celebrates 75 Years in 150 Seconds

The Walker Art Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a series of exhibitions and programs that highlight the institution’s distinctively curious ways. In less than three minutes, the below video rounds up 75 such questions in evocative, inspiring fashion. Those seeking answers can head to the Walker’s mesmerizing 75th anniversary website or Minneapolis, where Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections, a special exhibition studded with greatest hits such as Edward Hopper’s Office at Night (1940), Franz Marc’s The Large Blue Horses (1911), Chuck Close’s Big Self Portrait (1967-68), and Yves Klein’s Mondo Cane Shroud (1961), is on view through September 11, 2016.

Watch: At Home with Pablo Bronstein

Why settle for an ordinary vacation home when you can have a “baroque event”? Frieze recently visited artist Pablo Bronstein—who you may recall from the mythical architectural history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that he conjured in 2009—on the east coast of Kent, England, where he is embracing a “mid-century, slightly granny” aesthetic and the “pleasurable mess” of baroque architecture. “I think that it has no shame,” he says. “Baroque architecture does everything it possibly can to appeal, to amuse, to impress, to show off, to seem heavy or grand or important. It’s really sort of desperate architecture.” Watch Bronstein discuss art, architecture, taste, and the playful pathos of postmodernism.

Eileen Gray Documentary to Debut at Architecture & Design Film Festival

eileen grayThe Architecture & Design Film Festival returns to New York next month with a slate of more than 25 designtastic films that will screen at Tribeca Cinemas. Kicking off the five days of cinematic pleasures on October 15 will be the world premiere of Marco Orsini’s Gray Matters, a documentary about designer and architect Eileen Gray.

Pay no heed to the clunky title; the film is a historical, scholarly, and cinematic investigation of Gray’s life and career—well beyond the headline-making $28 million auction sale of her Dragons chair. Orsini and his crew followed Gray’s own travels, from the Irish countryside to London, from Paris to the Riviera, and drew upon never-before-seen footage and candid interviews with scholars, curators, auctioneers and collectors, including four living peers and collaborators of the artist. Here’s the trailer, best enjoyed while relaxing in a concrete modernist villa:

Rock Star: Doug Pray on Levitated Mass, the Documentary

levitated mass

Michael Heizer is an artist whose work you tend to stumble upon—perhaps literally, in the case of the bewitching ribbons of rusting steel embedded in the lawn of the Menil Collection—and then can’t stop thinking about. He made headlines in recent years during the installation of Levitated Mass (2012), a 456-foot-long slot constructed on the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) campus, over which is placed a 340-ton granite megalith. That momentous, paperwork-laden process, which entailed a $10 million, 22-city tour for the boulder and its custom-made trailer, is the subject of a new film by Doug Pray (Art & Copy, Surfwise). Now playing in select cities, Levitated Mass weaves together Heizer’s biography, the dreams of a major museum, and the uniting of a city—all while proving that it is possible to make a fascinating film about a massive rock. Pray (pictured below), who happens to be the son of a geologist, made time between screenings to tell us more about the film and its making.

(Diana Rathe)How did you first encounter the work of Michael Heizer?
Long before I knew about the work of Michael Heizer I had seen Adjacent, Against, Upon on the waterfront in Seattle, and, like millions of others, I’d encountered the smaller, running-water version of Levitated Mass in New York City, but I didn’t swim in it, so to speak. My first full, immersive experience was during the early days of our production on Levitated Mass while we were endlessly awaiting for the rock to get its permits and approvals and to move out of the quarry. I drove out to Mormon Mesa, near Overton, Nevada—about an hour and a half northeast of Las Vegas—and spent a half day walking around and inside Heizer’s massive Double Negative.
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Watch: Casey Neistat Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

In the wake of the global phenomenon of humans dousing themselves in ice water and donating to fight ALS, there are surely scores of people—those representing other charitable causes—bathed in envy and regret: Why didn’t we think of that, Jim? I told you we should have hired that weird intern with all the Instagram followers! Let’s figure out our own thing that involves buckets…what rhymes with “bucket”? Casey Neistat to the rescue. The intrepid filmmaker, who we last saw doling out advice for traveling avec skateboard, has created this expansive take on the ice bucket challenge, somehow managing to cordon off a Tribeca block to do so.

Watch: Ai Weiwei Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

“Ah yes, the summer of 2014, I remember it well,” you’ll tell your robot grandchildren. “The world lost Elaine StritchRobin Williams—tragic! And everyone was dumping buckets of ice water over their heads.” The latest celebrity to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—the DIY dunk-tank-for-charity viral sensation that involves chilly water, a video camera, and the magic of social media—is Ai Weiwei. No word as to whether the Chinese artist made a donation, but he definitely got soaked. Two buckets were required. Watch the scene unfold in the courtyard of his Beijing HQ, much to the delight of onlooking studio assistants.

Watch: On the Art and Craft of Art Forgery

art and craftWhen it comes to films about art forgers, woe betide the documentarian who attempts to top Orson Welles‘s delightfully gonzo F is for Fake (1973), which you can—and really should—watch in its mesmerizing entirety at the bottom of this post (what else are late summer afternoons for?). But the directorial trio of Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, Mark Becker have quite the character in career art forger Mark Landis. After he dupes Matthew Leininger, the intrepid museum registrar will stop at nothing to expose the technically skilled fraudster. The cat-and-mouse game unfolds in Art and Craft, which has been burning up the festival circuit and opens in limited release next month (keep an eye out for showtimes here). Behold the trailer:


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LACMA to Honor Barbara Kruger, Quentin Tarantino

(Barbara Kruger)Any number of lines from the films of Quentin Tarantino (perhaps the Pulp Fictional: “Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character” or “Personality goes a long way”?) would look swell sprawled out in Futura Bold Italic by Barbara Kruger. The artist and the filmmaker will come together on November 1 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as the honorees of its 2014 Art+Film Gala, the museum announced today. Further upping the Gucci-backed fete’s cinematic koan quotient will be Leonardo DiCaprio, who is chairing the event with LACMA trustee Eva Chow.

In other exciting film-related LACMA news, the museum is prepping the first major retrospective of the work of Pierre Huyghe. The exhibition, which is being “designed as a single, extraordinary environment,” opens November 23.

Pictured: Barbara Kruger, Untitled (You Are A Very Special Person), 1995

Quote of Note | Paul Hornschemeier on Giant Sloths

sloth

“There actually is a prehistoric giant sloth on the campus of the college I went to, Ohio State. I think it was vandalized sometime in the last couple of years, but I think they repaired it since then. I can’t remember which school it’s a part of. I want to say it’s the geology school. Whatever museum it’s in, a lot of the signage and a lot of the exhibits kind of feel like these leftovers from the ’70s and ’80s. It just always felt a little out of step with modern times. It just kind of had this very particular vibe that really stuck with me. But I didn’t really have the idea for the actual story….There was always something about the giant sloth, just being this creature that its modern day equivalent is so puny and so inconsequential. It’s funny, when I mention the film to some people, they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s funny, like a giant sloth.’ I’m like, ‘No, there really were giant sloths.’ A lot of people aren’t even necessarily aware of them. They were these gigantic, huge, powerful things the size of bears. So there was always a metaphor there in the back of my head.”

-Paul Hornschemeier on the slothful inspiration for his animated feature-in-the-making, Giant Sloth, starring Paul Giamatti as an insane museum curator

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