MCAC Overview

Celebrating 50 Years of the Modern and Contemporary Art Council at LACMA
Text by Howard N. Fox, Curator Emeritus, Contemporary Art

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2011 marks the 50th anniversary of LACMA’s Modern and Contemporary Art Council. The Council is distinguished in that it is one of the longest-running support groups for contemporary art at any museum in the country.

The objectives of the Modern and Contemporary Art Council have changed little since its founding fifty years ago: to support the acquisition of modern and contemporary art for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and to provide membership activities that are primarily educational that serve to develop and enhance an informed audience for, and community of collectors of, modern and contemporary art.

Building LACMA’s collection of modern and contemporary art has always been the core mission of the MCAC. More than 800 works have entered the collection thanks to the council. These include works of art purchased with council funds, or donated or bequeathed by council members. Many of those are signature pieces for both the museum and the artists who created them. They include:

Eleanor Antin’s pioneering 100 Boots (1971–73)

John Baldessari’s Wrong (1966–68), one of the earliest examples of conceptual art

Maurizio Cattelan's Untitled (2001)

Gajin Fujita's East Side Los Angeles (2003)

Donald Judd's Bullnose (1974)

Edward Kienholz's The Illegal Operation (1962)

Kerry James Marshall’s De Style (1993)

David Smith's Cubi XXIII (1964)

Frank Stella’s Getty Tomb (1959), one of his earliest legendary black paintings

Ruben Ortiz-Torres Orange Power Tool (Herramientas) (1999)

Bill Viola's Slowly Turning Narrative (1993)

The range and depth of LACMA’s contemporary holdings would have been impossible without the direct, sustained support of the MCAC. View an online gallery of highlights from the past five decades of MCAC acquisitions. 

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