Postcard from LAX

Even after two full days at the Getty, we were very tempted to spend a third there. But we were spending an arm and a leg on taxis, so we decided to try the Los Angeles County Museum of Art instead, which was within walking distance. Their collection is quite astonishing — from some terrific Dutch landscapes and three more Rembrandts, through twenty five Picassos, to some appalling kitsch by the egregious Jeff Koons. And turning a corner, there was that old philosophers’ favourite, Magritte’s La Trahison des images. Not, of course, a case where you get anything particular out of seeing the original, but a nice surprise all the same.

The galleries themselves are rather bleakly unwelcoming and unhelpful. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the curators that you might welcome a bit more information than title, artist, country and date (or even that you might occasionally want to sit down). The comparison with the feel of the Getty couldn’t be more marked. But the collection is still very much worth a visit.

Style note #1. To get to the LACMA we walked through some back streets full of small houses. English half-timbered cottages, mini-castles (with battlements), miniature arts-and-crafts houses, mexican shacks, sea-side-bungalows, all jumbled together. The air of good-humoured individualism gone slightly mad was, however, rather spoilt by the little signs planted in the front gardens by the owners threatening armed response if you mess with them.

Style note #2. Once upon a time, as the galleries remind you, children were dressed like little adults. Nowadays, looking at our fellow visitors, most American men — at least when not at work — dress like big children (from the playshoes upwards). I wonder what that is all about?

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