When Farrah met LACMA
Farrah Fawcett, who died Thursday morning at age 62, worked in many media as an actress, including television, film and on stage. But she was also a sculptor, and for a short, strange spell seven years ago, her work was on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The project, a collaboration between Fawcett and artist Keith Edmier, was called “Keith Edmier and Farrah Fawcett 2000.” The idea was to toy with her celebrity — to have him sculpt her and then turn the tables.
Though Fawcett did have some background in art, having been an art major at the University of Texas at Austin in the late 1960s, curator Lynn Zelevansky remembered that the show kicked up a small storm of protest among LACMA’s more conservative members. The museum did not end up acquiring any of the works with Fawcett’s name on them. But the exhibition ran from November 2002 to February 2003 (and was labeled a "fiasco" by Times art critic Christopher Knight), center stage held by a reclining marble sculpture of her, done mostly by him; and a standing bronze sculpture of him, done mostly by her.
Smaller works, photos, video and sketches were part of the exhibit as well. And in the run-up to the opening, Fawcett sat for an interview with The Times in Edmier’s Venice studio
On their first day of collaboration, with roles and objectives still largely undefined, "we started undoing the boxes of clay," Fawcett said. "I remember being filled with trepidation, thinking, 'OK, now, can I touch the clay?' It was much, much, much more tense than a first date. There was more riding on this."
In the beginning, Fawcett recalled, the plan was for the two to work together on an image of her. But Fawcett wound up sculpting Edmier while Edmier was sculpting her. (At the time, Edmier, then 35, acknowledged that the two had had a personal relationship.)
"I know when I was up on the clay, I was very conscious of revealing as little as possible. The intention was not to make it erotic," Fawcett said. Working with Edmier, Fawcett decided, was "like meeting with a secure director, a Robert Altman, who says, 'What are your ideas?' " And in their working relationship, she added, "we were able to sort of leave my celebrity out of it."
Added Fawcett: "If I had to pick people who really knew me, through work, through frustration, through extreme happiness, through extreme creativity -- you know, the whole realm -- I would say: Keith does," said Fawcett. "And he's known me for less time than a lot of people."
-- Christopher Reynolds
Photo: A sculpture of artist Keith Edmier made by Farrah Fawcett, pictured with Edmier in 2002. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times