Tag Archives: Los Angeles Review of Books


If [Peter Zumthor’s] new design is built, LACMA can no longer be associated with other encyclopedic museums in the United States that shaped their collections in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. Zumthor’s diminished plan would force it to shed the encyclopedic collections that are the very soul of the museum. It commits the original architectural sin of narcissism, of architecture for the sake of architecture.

This let-the-public-chew-concrete moment is all the more shameful because LACMA has gone ahead with demolition just as COVID-19 has taken over the country, state, county, and city, closing down all but essential activities. The administrations of two other museums under construction in Los Angeles — the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Exposition Park — have had the common decency to stop construction, admitting they are non-essential projects, and, hence, not worth risking the health of construction workers. Under the phony pretense that it suddenly cares for the public after having ignored public opinion for over a decade, LACMA claims its intent is to infuse (mostly public) money into the local economy, as though suddenly this deeply selfish boondoggle had an altruistic purpose: job creation. — Joseph Giovannini*

As an imaginary counter to what Giovannini calls LACMA director Michael Govan’s “fait accompli,” the Citizens’ Brigade to Save LACMA accepted proposals from twenty-eight international architectural firms and collections, choosing six final designs in two categories: “Existing Buildings” and “Ground Up.”

The six designs are by Barkow Leibinger, Berlin, with Lillian Montalvo Landscape Design; Coop Himmelb(l)au, Vienna; Kaya Design, London; Paul Murdoch Architects, Los Angeles; Reiser + Umemoto, New York City; and TheeAe (The Evolved Architectural Eclectic), Hong Kong.

See link below for details.

LACMA not LackMA

*Joseph Giovannini, “Demolition Under Cover of Covid-19,” Los Angeles Review of Books, May, 1, 2020.

This week, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight won the Pulitzer Prize for his series of articles criticizing Zumthor’s design and Govan’s advocacy of it.

From top, designs by: Re(in)novating LACMA, by Reiser + Umemoto, New York (2); Unified Campus, by Paul Murdoch Architects, Los Angeles (2); HILLACMA, by TheeAe (The Evolved Architectural Eclectic), Hong Kong (2); LACMA Wing, by Coop Himmelb(l)au, Vienna; Reimagining / Restructuring, by Saffet Kaya Design, London (2); Tabula LACMA, by Barkow Leibinger, Berlin, with Lillian Montalvo Landscape Design (2). Images courtesy and © the architects and the Citizens’ Brigade to Save LACMA.


“I try to take the long view. I think that every epoch has had its fantastical producers. I’m really interested in Manny Farber right now. He had two classifications for art: white elephant art—this huge thing, Stella, Koons, Canova, Cabanel—and termite art: Manet, Moyra Davey.

“I try to be sanguine about that quality of what’s possible with art. I do think art used to have a fantasy that it was separate from life, and we know now that it’s not.” — Helen Molesworth, PARIS LA 14  (2016)

“[White Elephant] was a term for work that made large claims of importance and was therefore burdened with all kinds of ungraceful exposition and prescriptive social thinking, as opposed to something like film noir—which is Termite Art—stuff that just burrowed into experience and ended up saying quite a lot more about American life and which Farber believed was more mysterious and lively and compressed and radiated more meaning because it didn’t bother trying to be important…

“I loved the termite position before I was old enough to have any self-conscious thoughts about what it meant.” — Jonathan Lethem, LARB, 2016

Molesworth—curator of ONE DAY AT A TIME—MANNY FARBER AND TERMITE ART, now at MOCA—will join Lethem this week to talk about Farber and his “notion of termite art—an exploration of the problems and pleasures of the everyday—as it appears within fine art, cinema, writing, and life.”*



Thursday, October 18, at 7 pm.



Through March 11.

MOCA Grand Avenue, 250 Grand Avenue, downtown Los Angeles.


See Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber, ed. Robert Polito (New York: Library of America, 2009).

Lethem is a contributor to Termite Deluxe: Manny Farber Writings and Paintings, a forthcoming volume exploring Farber’s life and work.

Top: Manny Farber, undated photograph, courtesy Patricia Patterson.

Above: Manny FarberStory of the Eye (detail), 1985; oil, graphite and masking tape on board. Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.

Below: Manny Farber, Domestic Movies, 1985; oil on board. ResMed collection, San Diego.

Image credit: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.


“The Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) will be welcoming Les Figues Press as an imprint of LARB Books. ‘We look for every opportunity to help support the literary community in Los Angeles, and so we are very happy to be part of Les Figues’s continued success,” said Tom Lutz, Los Angeles Review of Books editor-in-chief . ‘Les Figues Press has been documenting Los Angeles literary experimentalism for a dozen years, and we are glad to do our small part to help it continue breaking new ground.’ Les Figues will continue to produce four to five innovative works per year, with the support of LARB Books.

“Established in 2005, Les Figues is an award-winning, non-profit publisher focused on feminist work that pushes boundaries of genre and form. With an emphasis on writing as performance, engagement, and a point of participation, Les Figues also curates and hosts literary events, including readings, conversations, performances, and art salons. They have published the work of acclaimed writers such as Urs Allemann, Myriam Moscona, Dodie Bellamy, Colin Winnette, Sawako Nakayasu, Amina Cain, Frank Smith, and Matias Viegener. ‘This promising partnership allows Les Figues Press’s base of operations to stay solidly rooted in Los Angeles, under the management of fantastic additions to our editorial team, Kim Calder and Evan Kleekamp,’ said Teresa Carmody, editor of Les Figues Press. ‘As publishers of queer, feminist, highly experimental books of poetry and prose—including many works in translation—we’re optimistic that LARB’s larger platform and international presence will help bring new readers to these excellent but often overlooked books.’

“Carmody is a writer and editor who co-founded Les Figues with artist and writer Vanessa Place in 2005. Both she and Place have moved to the East Coast to embark on new opportunities, even as they retain their roles as editors-in-chief. In addition to her role at Les Figues, Carmody is now the director of Stetson University’s low-residency creative writing program, the MFA of the Americas. Place is a conceptual artist and criminal defense attorney, and the first poet to perform in the Whitney Biennial [2012]. Her most recent book is After Vanessa Place, with Naomi Toth, from Ma Bibliothèque.

“The Los Angeles Review of Books is a nonprofit, multimedia magazine of literature and culture that combines the great American tradition of the serious book review with the evolving technologies of the web. We are a community of writers, critics, journalists, artists, filmmakers, and scholars dedicated to promoting and disseminating the best that is thought and written, with an enduring commitment to the intellectual rigor, the incisiveness, and the power of the written word.

Les Figues Press is a nonprofit literary organization and award-winning publisher of poetry, prose, visual art, conceptual writing, and translation. Based in Los Angeles, our mission is to create aesthetic conversations between readers, writers, and artists. Les Figues Press publishes five to seven books a year and favors projects which push the boundaries of genre, form, and general acceptability. We also curate and host literary events, including readings, conversations, performances, and art salons. Les Figues Press embraces a feminist criticality and editorial vision. We are interested in work that is aware of itself as a textual body within a history and culture marked (like physical bodies) by constructs of gender, race, class, and sexuality.”





“[When I turned twelve] it seemed necessary that I stop behaving the way I was behaving, the way I had always behaved. I would have to watch the gestures I made while talking. I’d have to make my voice sound deeper, to devote myself to masculine activities. More soccer, different television programs, different CDs to listen to. Every morning in the bathroom getting ready I would repeat the same phrase to myself over and over again so many times that it lost all meaning, becoming nothing but a series of syllables, of sounds. Then I’d stop and start over again. ‘Today I’m gonna be a tough guy’….

“Each day was a new ordeal: people don’t change as easily as that….And yet I had understood that living a lie was the only chance I had of bringing a new truth into existence.” — Édouard Louis, En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule (originally published in 2014; English-language publication, 2017)

ÉDOUARD LOUIS, THE END OF EDDY, translated from the French by Michael Lucey (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017)

Available at Skylight Books, in Los Feliz, and Book Soup, West Hollywood.

Louis is also the director of the philosophy and sociology series Les Mots, published by Presses Universitaires de France, and with Geoffroy de Lagasnerie co-authored the “Manifeste pour une contre-offensive intellectuelle et politique,” recently translated into English by Los Angeles Review of Books. 

See: lareviewofbooks.org/article/manifesto-for-an-intellectual-and-political-counter-offensive/

Édouard Louis Image credit: Alchetron

Édouard Louis
Image credit: Alchetron