A Dog Called Human, Live Bees, & a Monkey in a Mask: Pierre Huyghe at LACMA



The first 25 years of Pierre Huyghe’s career are on view in a “retrospective” that, according to LACMA’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art Jerrett Gregory, “looks to the future”.  Much more is still expected from Huhghe, who LACMA’s Director Michael Govan calls “one of the most important artists working today.” A major museum retrospective at mid-age (Huyghe was born in Paris in 1962) is high praise. We had to take a look and learn why Huyghe is so important in the art world.

When you enter the galleries, a guard in a bow tie announces your name. It’s a little trick to make you feel welcome, and perhaps to personalize the experience you are about to have, which is designed to unfold differently for each visitor. There isn’t a set path through the show, instead visitors wander from space to space. Huyghe’s 60 works of art, which range from drawings to films to sculpture, and integrate live creatures such as bees and a dog, are arranged thematically, but don’t worry too much about categorization. The way to experience the work is to let your mind relax and explore.

And have fun.  You can even play a giant game of Pong on the ceiling of one of the gallery rooms. This show is so much fun that the hashtag PierreHuyghe has over 2800 images on Instagram within 24 hours of the press preview.

Turns out, the retrospective was designed to be like a park, a place to wander and discover – a living breathing environment – which makes it quite friendly to kids middle-school and older. The installations are film-heavy (in fact one debuting at LACMA called Untitled (Human Mask) features a monkey wearing a geisha mask). The show is particularly great for intrepid middle and high schoolers — and all curious adults!

Huyghe’s name is pronounced hweeg

pierre huyghe

Pierre Huyghe, film still from “Untitled (Human Mask),” 2014

Michael Govan’s message at the exhibit’s opening was to implore visitors to come and experience Pierre Huyghe more than one time.  Govan’s point was not just to sell more tickets, but to underline what is unique about this show  — the artist’s “auto-generative system” is meant to unfold differently during each visit.  The show is not interactive, but instead the artist constructs “a set of conditions and allows events to unfold following their own course.” You never know what each experience will be, so as LACMA visitors enjoyed the James Turrell space multiple times, the hope is that folks will want to return to this show many times over the course of the three-month run.  The show closes on February 22, 2015.

You can hear the artist speak this Sunday (11/23) at the museum’s Bing Theater at 1:00 PM.

Here is recent NYTimes article about Huyghe which provides some context

Public ticketing opens November 19, 2014.

Members-only priority ticketing is now open. Reserve today.

Meet some of the elements that participate in the changing environment–

"Human" at LACMA

There is a dog names “Human” wandering about, a pink-legged Iberian hound to be exact, followed by a human keeper (Player, 2010) whose face you can’t see because he wears a mask that doubles as a LED flood light to follow “Human” into darkened galleries. Here are two shots of the dog, one being stalked by paparazzi and the other in gallery repose, where he sleeps on luscious fur coats in various corners (his handler sitting quietly nearby). Visitors are asked not to approach the dog.

"Human" at LACMA

Speaking of bees, there is a large hive of “gentle” Italian bees on a terrace off the Resnick Pavilion and beekeepers will let you get to know them. Perhaps it is hard to see, but that nude’s head is swarming with bees. (If you are allergic, stay inside!).

Pierre Huyghe at LACMA

pierre huyghe at LACMA

There’s a pile of snow, an ice rink that seems to have La Brea Tar Pits lava sprinkled on it (though, when on display in Paris at the Centre Pompidou, an ice skater skated about on the same rink).

pierre huyghe at LACMA


huyghe LACMA

Baby horseshoe crabs creep about a large rock (lava?)  suspended in water — if you stand in the right place, you can get a glimpse of Levitated Mass just out the gallery windows – a similarly suspended rock. The suspended rock lives in the aquarium (which the artist calls a “zoodram”) with a few baby horseshoe crabs and some spider crabs.

huyghe lacma

And, here is a Brancusi sculpture with a hermit ran living inside – so, each time you visit this murky aquarium, the mask will be situated somewhere different.pierre huyghe at LACMA

Recollection (Zoodram 4 after “Sleeping Muse” by Constantin Brancusi)