LACMA to Honor Clint Eastwood and John Baldessari

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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announces its first Art + Film Gala as it prepares to relaunch its film screening program

L.A.'s movie and art worlds are getting a tighter embrace at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The museum has announced that its inaugural Art + Film Gala will be held on Saturday, November 5, 2011, honoring actor/director Clint Eastwood and seminal L.A. conceptual artist John Baldessari.

Co-chairing the LACMA benefit are Leonardo DiCaprio, star of Eastwood's forthcoming, J. Edgar, and fashion designer Eva Chow.

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"As we are in Hollywood, we would like to make LACMA a major film museum as well, in terms of exhibitions, acquisitions, screenings, restoration and more. We have a lot of things planned and this gala will kind of kick-start that," Chow (who works with her husband Michael Chow in running the Mr. Chow restaurant empire) tells THR. "It's all one thing actually if you think about it. It's art. It's storytelling. It's creativity."

The gala, sponsored by Gucci, will raise funds to support LACMA’s "initiative to make film more central to the museum's curatorial programming, while also funding LACMA's broader mission," the museum said in a release.

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This includes LACMA's reinvigorated film screening program, which was almost slashed in 2009 due to dwindling attendance and budget concerns. The museum reversed itself amid a public outcry, including an open letter from Martin Scorsese who called for the 40-year-old program to be saved.

Earlier this year, LACMA, led by CEO Michael Govan, announced that it would reboot the series in the fall of 2011. It formed a partnership with Film Independent, the group behind the Independent Spirit Awards and the L.A. Film Festival, and has hired film critic Elvis Mitchell as curator.

In July, LACMA board member Terry Semel, former chairman/CEO of Warner Bros. and Yahoo, reiterated the museum's support for film. "We have the Tim Burton exhibit [through Oct. 31], and next fall will be a Stanley Kubrick exhibit. If not on the West Coast, where else?" he told THR.

Chow calls DiCaprio a friend of the museum. "He's very interested in art and he's been coming to the museum. He's an avid art lover," she says.

In a statement, DiCaprio said, "I am proud to take part in this celebration of the contributions of Clint Eastwood. His illustrious motion picture career is unparalleled. And I'm so pleased that LACMA recognizes film as the art form it is and is dedicated to creating a world-class film department."