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In a symbol of how far the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has come in strengthening its ties to the city’s film world, director Martin Scorsese will step to the podium on Nov. 2 as an honoree at the museum’s third annual Art+Film Gala. Scorsese’s fellow honoree at the benefit gala will be artist David Hockney.
Hockney is a big get as an honoree, but Scorsese is statement-making. After all, it was a mere four years ago that the famed director penned an open letter addressed to the museum and its director Michael Govan, severely criticizing LACMA’s decision to largely scrap its decades-old weekend film screening program. “People from all over the world are speaking out, because they see this action — correctly, I think — as a serious rebuke to film within the context of the art world,” he wrote at the time.
Since then, though, the museum has made major strides forward in its relation to Hollywood, from the installation of Film Independent and curator Elvis Mitchell to run a new screening program, showing a number of film-related exhibits, including a well-attended Stanley Kubrick retrospective, and, not least, the announcement that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences plans to open its museum on the LACMA campus.
This year’s Art+Film Gala is once again co-chaired by LACMA trustee Eva Chow and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who was undoubtedly instrumental in luring Scorsese as an honoree. “I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with Marty on Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and most recently The Wolf of Wall Street,” said DiCaprio in a statement. “I am thrilled to have my dear friend join us at LACMA and to celebrate his astounding cinematic legacy and leadership in preserving film for future generations.” The museum also announced that it, The Annenberg Foundation and the Film Foundation, a non-profit group founded in 1990 to preserve film, have come together to restore a quartet of films by French filmmaker Agnes Varda that will become part of LACMA’s permanent collection. They are: 1967’s Uncle Yanco, 1968’s Black Panthers, 1969’s Lions Love and 1981’s Mur Murs.
Gucci will return for the third year in a row as the black-tie evening’s sponsor, with its creative director Frida Giannini serving as gala host committee chair. Past honorees were Clint Eastwood (also one of DiCaprio’s directors) and artist John Baldessari in 2011 and artist Ed Ruscha and the late Kubrick last year.
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