Artists on Art

Artists on Art - About the Series

LACMA's Artists on Art videos offer insights into works in the museum's encyclopedic collection that have inspired and informed artists working today. Looking at art through their eyes, we hear directly from artists about works that intrigue them and have fed their own creativity.


Aaron Curry on Pablo Picasso

Ed Ruscha on Marcel Duchamp

Gajin Fujita on Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Helen Pashgian on Georges de La Tour

Mark Grotjahn on John McLaughlin

Mark Lee on El Lissitzky

Pae White on Christopher Dresser

Peter Shelton on Shiva's Family

Roy Dowell on Dance Paddle

Thomas Demand on Water Container for Tea Ceremony



Alison Saar on Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Betye Saar on Ceremonial Board

Catherine Opie on Thomas Eakins

Jacob Samuel on Albrecht Dürer

James Welling on László Moholy-Nagy

John Baldessari on René Magritte

Judy Fiskin on Lee Friedlander

Mario Ybarra, Jr. on Edward Kienholz

Thomas Houseago on Tony Smith

Tom Knechtel on Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo

Artists on Art - Alison Saar on Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Natural and found materials and images speak for buried and present histories in Alison Saar’s powerful art. Her sculptures, paintings, and installations combine references to spiritual archetypes as well as the many identities that today make up the African Diaspora. Saar is a recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2012 was named a Fellow by United States Artists.

For Artists on Art, Alison Saar speaks on Dancer with Necklace by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

Artists on Art - Betye Saar on Ceremonial Board

As a member of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and ’70s, Betye Saar emerged as one the most incisive visual artists to address issues of race and history in the U.S. Her early collages and assemblages are now canonical. In recent decades she has extended into powerful, large-scale installations her interests in mysticism, folk art, non-western art, and personal memory.

For Artists on Art, Betye Saar speaks on a ceremonial board from Papua New Guinea.

Artists on Art - Catherine Opie on Thomas Eakins

Catherine Opie’s photography is extraordinary for the range of its gaze, taking in our institutions and fringes, icons and outcasts, rituals and taboos. Her landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and interiors are, collectively, a profound document of contemporary America, and have been the focus of many solo exhibitions, including, at LACMA, Catherine Opie: Figure and Landscape (2010) and Catherine Opie: O (2016).

For Artists on Art, Catherine Opie speaks on Wrestlers by Thomas Eakins.

Artists on Art - Jacob Samuel on Albrecht Duerer

Ever since Jacob Samuel set up his Santa Monica workshop in 1988, artists have turned to this master printer for his unparalleled insights into how centuries-old techniques can be applied to make contemporary prints. The archive of Edition Jacob Samuel has been jointly acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum.

For Artists on Art, Jacob Samuel speaks on prints by Albrecht Dürer.

Artists on Art - James Welling on Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

The photographs of James Welling, since his start among the “Pictures Generation” of the 1970s, have explored the technical reaches of the medium to create images addressing both abstraction and representation. Through his experimentations with Polaroids, photograms, black-and-white and color photography, and digital technology, he has worked with subject matter as varied as the poetry of Susan Howe, Andrew Wyeth’s paintings, architecture, and contemporary dance.

For Artists on Art, James Welling speaks on two photographs by László Moholy-Nagy.

Artists on Art - John Baldessari on Magritte

The groundbreaking conceptual artist John Baldessari is one of today’s most influential artists, both as teacher and practitioner. His extraordinary breadth of work—photography, paintings, prints, artist’s books, and videos—has been celebrated internationally in numerous solo exhibitions, including the 2009–10 retrospective John Baldessari: Pure Beauty, co-organized by LACMA.

For Artists on Art, John Baldessari speaks on The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe) by René Magritte.

Artists on Art - Judy Fiskin on Lee Friedlander

Through photography and video, Judy Fiskin has, since the 1970s, addressed narratives of both visual and personal significance—from pictures of the California landscape to intimate reflections on her own mother’s mortality. Her precise art is deeply affecting and has provided a path-breaking model to generations of artists. The subject of solo exhibitions at MOCA in Los Angeles and the New Museum in New York, among other institutions, Fiskin teaches at CalArts.

For Artists on Art, Judy Fiskin speaks on Statue - New Jersey by Lee Friedlander.

Artists on Art - Mario Ybarra on Edward Kienholz

Mario Ybarra, Jr. is an artist, educator, and activist deeply involved in the Mexican-American community and street culture of greater Los Angeles. He is co-founder, with Karla Diaz, of Slanguage, an artist group based in Wilmington, CA, that promotes intergenerational art education and cross-community discussion of contemporary art.

For Artists on Art, Mario Ybarra, Jr. speaks on Edward Kienholz.

Artists on Art - Thomas Houseago on Tony Smith

Thomas Houseago, born in Leeds, England, gained early acclaim for his highly tactile figurative sculptures. Made with traditional materials and techniques and informed by art historical precedents, his hulking figures are enlivened by a contemporary, often eviscerating effect. Since making Los Angeles his home in 2003, his monumental works have grown in scale. Now competing with architecture, they remain human in impact.

For Artists on Art, Thomas Houseago speaks on Smoke by Tony Smith.

Artists on Art - Tom Knechtel on Tiepolo

Employing a range of media—oil paint, watercolor, gouache, collage, graphite—Tom Knechtel creates spectacular images. “I often think of my paintings as a kind of imaginary theater company,” he has said, which perfectly encapsulates their mesmerizing play of color, characters, and scenes. Knechtel lives and works in Los Angeles and teaches at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

For Artists on Art, Tom Knechtel speaks on Centaur Arrested in Flight, a Female Faun on His Back by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo.

Artists on Art – Thomas Demand on Water Container for Tea Ceremony

Thomas Demand’s photographs and films, typically empty of people, have an uncanny aspect to them, perhaps explained by his process: he shoots images of specially constructed paper models, which are themselves based on photographic images from, books, and other media. Demand, who is among a number of accomplished photographers trained at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany, complicates the precedent of photography as documentary practice. The subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; and LACMA (Thomas Demand: Pacific Sun, 2014–15), Demand lives and works in Los Angeles and Berlin.

For Artists on Art, Thomas Demand speaks on Water Container for Tea Ceremony.

Artists on Art – Mark Lee on El Lissitzky

Mark Lee founded the Los Angeles architectural firm Johnston Marklee with Sharon Johnston in 1998. Johnston Marklee’s innovative designs include the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, the Pavilion of Six Views in Shanghai, and the planned UCLA Art Studios in Culver City, California. The firm’s perceptive integration of architectural form, materiality, and new technology has earned them particular acclaim in their collaborations with artists and arts institutions. Johnston Marklee designed the much-praised installation for LACMA’s 2017 exhibition "Moholy-Nagy: Future Present."

For Artists on Art, Mark Lee speaks on Proun 3A by El Lissitzky.

Artists on Art – Aaron Curry on Pablo Picasso

Aaron Curry melds pop culture, surrealism, and modernism, creating a futuristic vision from historical styles of abstract art. His sculptures and paintings—made of wood, metal, fiberglass, or cardboard; silk-screened or spray-painted; often neon-colored and sometimes wonderfully oversized—draw upon familiar forms to suggest another space-time. Solo exhibitions of his work have taken place at CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, France; the Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

For Artists on Art, Aaron Curry speaks on Centaur by Pablo Picasso.

Artists on Art – Roy Dowell on Dance Paddle

Rooted in his decades-long collage practice, Roy Dowell’s paintings and sculptures, extraordinary for their range of color and form, combine modernist cues with other visual languages, from Oceanic tribal art to Latin American art to commercial ephemera. Made of paint as well as non-fine art materials, Dowell’s highly personalized compositions are testaments to his extraordinary eye for the motifs, geometries, and patterns of the world’s vast visual culture. His work is in the collections of LACMA, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, and The Drawing Center in New York, among others.

For Artists on Art, Roy Dowell speaks on Dance Paddle.

Artists on Art – Pae White on Christopher Dresser

Pae White’s practice straddles the line between what is thought of as “high art” and “functional object.” In fact, her creations often—and purposefully—are both, finding their place simultaneously in the worlds of art, craft, and design. Her work ranges from intimate installations incorporating Vera scarves to large-scale tapestries, based on photos of crumpled aluminum foil or plumes of smoke and made on computer-driven looms. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

For Artists on Art, Pae White speaks on Soup Tureen and Ladle by Christopher Dresser.

Artists on Art – Peter Shelton on Shiva’s Family

Peter Shelton’s sculptures incorporate both abstracted and figurative forms along with anatomical as well as architectural motifs. He works in metal and fiberglass, in large and small scale, commenting—at once seriously and with humor—on the human condition. Based in Los Angeles since the mid-1970s, Shelton has had solo shows at LACMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the UC Berkeley Art Museum, among other institutions.

For Artists on Art, Peter Shelton speaks on Shiva's Family.

Artists on Art - Gajin Fujita on Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

The paintings of Gajin Fujita, who was born and raised in East L.A., are epic mashups of the street tagging he did as an adolescent and traditional Japanese imagery and techniques. His work has been exhibited at LACMA (2005–6) as well as at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, among other institutions worldwide.

For Artists on Art, Gajin Fujita speaks on Gojō Bridge, an Episode from the Life of Yoshitsune by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

Artists on Art – Helen Pashgian on Georges de La Tour

Helen Pashgian is one of the California Light and Space artists who, beginning in the 1960s, focused on vision and perception, often using plastics and other synthetics developed for the aerospace industry. Her sculptures are concerned with how light interacts with materials and how the viewer perceives this. Born and raised in Pasadena, Pashgian studied art history in Boston before returning to Southern California for its light. “In those long-ago years,” she has said, “I was slowly becoming aware of light as a ‘thing.’” Pashgian has since worked with clear and translucent acrylics and resins to achieve spectacular effects, most recently with large-scale discs that seem to hover in space, seemingly blending into the surrounding air. Her work was celebrated at LACMA in the exhibition "Helen Pashgian: Light Invisible" (2014).

For Artists on Art, Helen Pashgian speaks on The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame by Georges de La Tour.

Artists on Art - Ed Ruscha on Marcel Duchamp

An icon of West Coast Pop, Ed Ruscha is known for his works in a wide variety of media; his images are typically text-based and/or depict the deadpan yet nonetheless expressive landscapes of his adoptive state of California. He frequently portrays gas stations, parking lots, swimming pools, the Hollywood sign, and many other aspects of Los Angeles and its surroundings. LACMA owns almost 500 works by Ruscha, including the celebrated 1962 painting Actual Size.

For Artists on Art, Ed Ruscha speaks on With Hidden Noise by Marcel Duchamp.

Artists on Art – Mark Grotjahn on John McLaughlin

Mark Grotjahn gained renown beginning in the 1990s for his “butterfly” paintings and drawings—deceptively simple compositions of radiating lines that at once suggest perspectival space and lie flat on a surface rich in chromatic and textural nuance. Grotjahn’s interest in modernism is evident in his recent “mask” series of painted bronze sculptures. His work has been shown widely, with solo exhibitions at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. The exhibition John McLaughlin Paintings: Total Abstraction was on view at LACMA in 2016–17.

For Artists on Art, Mark Grotjahn speaks on #26 by John McLaughlin.