Max Palevsky's passion for Arts and Crafts*
Max Palevsky made his fortune in computer electronics, but he is making his mark at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with Arts and Crafts furniture and decorative objects, as you can read about in my Sunday Arts & Books story. Working closely with LACMA curators since 1984, he has built a major collection of Arts and Crafts material that he and his wife, Jodie Evans, intend to donate to the museum.
LACMA has exhibited large parts of the collection over the years. The latest installation, featuring 18 of 45 recently promised gifts, went on view Friday in the exhibition "The Arts and Crafts Movement: Masterworks From the Max Palevsky and Jodie Evans Collection." A copper urn by Frank Lloyd Wright, an armchair by Gustav Stickley and a Tiffany table lamp are among the exemplars of a handmade aesthetic that grew out of a reaction to the Industrial Revolution.
Although it might seem unlikely that a computer guru would be smitten by the late 19th- and early 20th-century movement's ideology, Palevsky draws parallels between his feelings about computers and Arts and Crafts attitudes about industrialization.
"Computers were originally intended to expedite work and solve serious problems, from space travel to record keeping," he wrote in the catalog of a 2004 exhibition. "Unfortunately, they have also become passive entertainment devices -- substitutes for interactions with the real world. Just as the Arts and Crafts movement took issue with the alienation of people from 'pleasure in labour' and the resulting loss of human creativity, I, too, oppose the depersonalization that comes from the hypnotic quality of computer games, the substitution of a Google search for genuine inquiry, the instant messaging that has replaced social discourse."
-- Suzanne Muchnic
Photo: Max Palevsky at his office in Westwood; the contemporary painting beside him is "West Southwest" by Al Held. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For the Los Angeles Times
*UPDATE: The artwork pictured with Palevsky above is misidentified in our original post. It is "East End" by Valerie Jaudon.