While I was down in LA this past week, I took the opportunity (hot on the heels of The Art Assignment’s art visit episode to LA) to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It’s quite a different experience than the Getty, with a series of (mostly) independently designed buildings, rather than being one unified whole. One of those buildings was the Japanese Pavilion.
For a building dedicated to displaying primarily Japanese scrolls, it works quite well. A continuous, and sinuous, ramp stretches up and down from the entry level, its curviness creating alcoves and balconies from which to view the artwork. The ramp floats within the greater volume of the pavilion, hovering over a “stream” made of black rock hemmed in by black tiled walls.
The amorphous shape and path of the ramps creates vistas across the building, letting you catch glimpses of the upcoming artwork and paths, much as a meandering path through a garden.
The little alcoves, coupled with the transparent railing, makes for a very intimate art viewing experience.
Capping it all off are the translucent panels that make up the outer walls and an oculus in the roof. Looking all the like giant shoji screens, they allow natural light to flood the space, bathing the artwork in a diffuse glow that emulates the original viewing conditions for the paintings and highlights the detail and texture in the painting.
Overall, a nice little gallery, possessing a nice balance between whimsical excitement and a quiet serenity, very well suited to the artwork on display. Worth a visit for both the art and the architecture.