LACMA’s Ode to Advertising’s Golden Age

The museum elevates the medium to an exhibition-worthy art form



Ericka Beckman’s Spoonful, 1987. Image: Courtesy of the artist and LACMA.


The oft-underappreciated art of commercial photography finally gets its due with LACMA’s Objects of Desire: Photography and the Language of Advertising, which looks at the visual language of the medium and the adoption of its content, formats and distribution methods in fine-art photography. “I’m always interested in what contemporary artists are making and the ways in which they influence culture,” says Rebecca Morse, who curated the works of 34 artists for the multimedia show. “Because advertising is at the center of this exhibition, I believe it will encourage visitors to reconcile with false truths and visual manipulation.”


“Overall, the works included are luscious and captivating”

Rebecca Morse


Figures, 1983, by Sarah Charlesworth. Image: Courtesy of the estate of Sarah Charlesworth and LACMA.


Luncheon Meat on a Counter, 1978, by Sandy Skoglund. Image: Courtesy of the artist and LACMA.


The exhibit features works by the likes of Chris Burden, Barbara Kruger and Sandy Skoglund, who takes cues from the harsh color palette and lighting of commercial food photography in her 1978 series “Food Still Lifes,” a commentary on mass culture versus high art. Highlighting the commodification of the individual, Sanja Iveković’s “GEN XX” series appropriates ads featuring women and replaces product branding and slogans with the names of female resistance fighters during the Nazi occupation of her native former Yugoslavia. Consider us already sold. Sept. 4 through Dec. 18. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.;


Feature image: An image from Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s Toiletpaper magazine, 2012. Courtesy of the artists and LACMA Balch Art Research Library.


This story originally appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of C Magazine.

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