Marguerite Alberts, assistant to graphics editor
Located in the residential part of Beverly Hills, north of Sunset, the Weisman Gallery has its own specific set of rules that may seem ridiculous. But upon entering the property, it is easy to understand why the directors of the museum are so strident. The gallery is most certainly worth a visit despite the annoying, yet justified, stipulations including coming exactly five minutes before the time of the viewer’s appointment.
Walking into the Weisman Gallery, the visitor is immediately bombarded with amazing works of art. Literally, billions of dollars worth of art fills every little corner, from floor to ceiling. These aren’t just any pieces of art, though. The artists displayed include Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Lichtenstein and many others famous for their surrealist and abstract work.
The amount of art is not the only incredible part of the exhibit. The story behind the late Frederick Weisman and his home is truly fascinating. Weisman was a businessman who spent his fortune collecting pieces of art, beginning in the 1940s. Both he and his wife, Marcia Simon, filled their home with fabulous pieces of art, many of which were novel and odd. Many of the artists in the show did not become famous until after Weisman and his wife “discovered” them. Though the Weismans did live in the house, they were forced to leave due to the need for more space, even after building a second living area separate from the main house. The additional building now hosts both a gallery as well as the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, established in 1982 by Frederick Weisman after he and his wife divorced in 1979.
The exhibit remains exactly as it was when Frederick Weisman died in 1994, though pieces are used in exhibitions around the world. Because Frederick Weisman was friends with many of the artists, the exhibit contains many personal pieces commissioned for him and his family, including portraits by Warhol.
Unlike most museums, the Weisman Gallery has no plan or order. Everything is completely discombobulated with the exception of the dining room, which is specifically for surrealist art. While the layout is an interesting change, the disorganization makes it sometimes difficult to look at and truly take in all of the different creations.
In some ways, the amount of personal works detracts from the viewer’s amazement because the pieces are not genuine works of art. The items are not the true ideas of the artist, but works the commissioner paid for and planned.
Despite the lasting feeling of being overwhelmed and some disappointments, this exhibit is not something to pass up.