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LACMA's 'Art of Two Germanys' nabs top honors from curators group

May 17, 2010 | 11:44 am

If awards from your peers mean the most, LACMA curator Stephanie Barron is having a significantly good day.

Barron has received top honors from the Assn. of Art Museum Curators, which has a 900-plus membership, for her exhibition "Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Culture," co-curated with Eckhart Gillen. It was named outstanding museum exhibition in the Pacific Time Zone for 2009. The awards are being announced at an annual AAMC meeting in Chicago today.

The show already received a first place award from the International Assn. of Art Critics in the category of best thematic museum show nationally.

Barron spent more than six years developing the "Art of Two Germanys" show, but you could also say it was the culmination of her decades of scholarship in modern and contemporary German art. The ambitious exhibition included a range of mediums -- painting, sculpture, installation, photography as well as performance documentation -- from both West and East Germany from the end of World War II until the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

The exhibition introduced little-known artists from the East side of the divide whose work had never before been seen in the States, including that of Hermann Glöckner, who made small but powerful Constructivist-style sculptures. It also provided artistic and political context for familiar artists such as Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Georg Baselitz. 

As Christopher Knight wrote in The Times, work by such artists "now looks slightly different in this illuminating context." LACMA was the show's only U.S. venue. 

Another AAMC winning exhibition is "Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity," curated by Barry Bergdoll and Leah Dickerman of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It tied with "Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice," curated by Frederick Ilchman of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, for best exhibition in the Eastern Time Zone.  

"Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety, and Myth," curated by Jay A. Clark of the Art Institute of Chicago, took the award for Central Time Zone.

Michael Taylor of the Philadelphia Museum of Art won the honor of best permanent collection catalog for his unusual book on Marcel Duchamp. The book is unusual because it focuses on a single work of art, the infinitely creepy peephole installation "Etant donnés" that Duchamp secretly developed from 1946 to 1966. 

Look for one of Taylor's newest projects, the Arshile Gorky retrospective first shown in Philadelphia, to reach the Museum of Contemporary Art here in June.

Barron's next big show will not be German but American: a much-awaited retrospective of Los Angeles sculptor Ken Price, currently slated to open at LACMA in the fall of 2012.

-- Jori Finkel

You can follow the writer on Twitter: @jorifinkel.

Installation shot of "Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Culture." Courtesy LACMA.