Artistic Endeavors – The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I’m thrilled that so many renowned art museums are making their collections available online. I’m even more thrilled when a digital collection allows me to search for public domain images, so I can find images to use in my art.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) gave me many ways to search its collection – by public domain images (over 20,000,) by most popular, by time period, by object type, by on view, plus an advanced search that allowed me to zero in by many facets, such as exhibition history. Some of the search headings seem a bit quirky, like cherry blossoms. Here I found a contender for the longest title.

Act IV: Envoys from the Shogun Approach Lady Kaoyo and Group at Enya’s Castle, Bringing Sentence of Death to Enya, Lady Kaoyo Is Surrounded by Cherry Blossoms Gathered to Cheer Enya during His Incarceration Japan, circa 1835-1839

As further icing on the cake (no such thing as too much) LACMA has hundreds of textiles in its collection that are in the public domain. Admittedly, many are textile fragments, but from what I saw, these pieces aren’t on public view. The only way you can see them is digitally. A brief pause for a message from my soapbox – many museums don’t display their textile collections. You can see them only online.

The following works in the public domain caught my eye as I browsed.

 Chamba Rumal with Scenes of Gopis Adoring Krishna
India, Himachal Pradesh, probably Kangra, late 18th to early 19th century Textiles; embroidery
Silk embroidery on cotton
30 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.
I think the gopis look like they belong in “The Simpsons.”
Quilt for Four Poster Bed, ‘Variable Star’
United States, New England, 1725-1750, Textiles; quilts
Pieced and quilted wool, 104 1/2 x 102 1/2 in.
I love the blocks where the maker ran out of fabric and made do. At over 100 inches each way this quilt must have made a bold statement on a bed.
Quilt, ‘Log Cabin’ Pattern, ‘Pineapple’ variation
United States, Pennsylvania, 1870-1880 Textiles; quilts
Pieced wool and cotton, 88 x 88 in
 I love the diagonal red stripes that show up occasionally in this one.
Here’s one public domain image I thought would make a striking quilt.
Shoeshine Stand, Southeastern United States
Walker Evans (United States, 1903-1975), United States, circa 1936
Photographs, Gelatin silver print

  As I hope you’ve seen, this site has lots of entertainment value if you like images of art.


Filed under Commentary, Inspiration

7 responses to “Artistic Endeavors – The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

  1. Looks like a great archive. There is plenty to read and see out there. Each time I dive into a subject like the early 1800s textile mills, I’m amazed at how much info there is. The other day I found data to make bar charts of cotton production, slave holdings, and textile workers from 1800-1860. And you can find wages for those textile workers, too. Keep digging and I think you can read all the Lowell Offering publications, and most or all of Godey’s Lady’s Book, all online, all for us!

    That 4-poster bed quilt is amazing. I love its row asymmetry, as well as the make-do fabrics. They really give it life. One of the reasons I never worry about running out of a fabric I’m using. THanks for sharing.

    • Are you interested in the mill girls? I’m fascinated by the story of how paternalistic capitalism devolved into miserable conditions that kept hours long and wages low (no more than half what a man made.) I thought you’d like that bed quilt.

      • Yes, the mill girls are fascinating, as is the economic and social history that goes with them. In 1825 the women made an average of 41 cents and hour and the men made $1.08. Their roles were different — men were typically overseers and mechanics, or had other physically difficult jobs. The women had more passive positions, mostly, but also the long hours and terrible work conditions. The mills rooms were filled with steam, the noise was literally deafening. The cotton lint filled the air and gave longer-term workers lung disease. The paternalism did devolve — perfect word for that. It went from protecting and chaperoning the young women through the constraining rules, to as you say even more miserable conditions. They had originally rejected the type of working conditions of the English mills, and deliberately determined that the women should be of high reputation — simple hard-working country girls, rather than desperate ghetto dwellers and their small children. (Although Rhode Island’s mills were not as concerned about either reputation or how the children were treated.) And then shifted over time to employing desperation on purpose. And now we buy our fabrics and clothing from companies employing much the same tactics overseas…

  2. Thanks for sharing that. I had no idea so much was in the public domain.

    • You’re welcome. From what I’ve seen, many museums indicate their holdings that are in the public domain. It’s harder to find photographs i the public domain, for obvious reasons, and you can pretty much forget about 20th century art.

  3. Another good place to spend happy hours wandering. I am so grateful for digital collections! Thank you for sharing this one.

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