Last week I was lucky enough to visit sunny California for a conference. While I didn’t have a lot of spare time for sightseeing, I knew that I had to make a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The last time I was in LA, I spent an entire, exhausting day there trying to see as many of the pavilions as I could. This year I limited myself to the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which was designed by Renzo Piano and opened in 2008.
The building reflects the sense of whimsy displayed by many of the artworks inside. If visitors take the outdoor escalator to the third floor, they are rewarded with a remarkable view of the iconic Hollywood sign.
(Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Shafted), Photo: Unframed)
Or one can enter on the ground floor and take the massive glass elevator, which provides an opportunity to examine Barbara Kruger’s three-story installation Untitled (Shafted) up close as it slowly rises and descends.
Currently on display are two of Robert Therrien’s monumental dish sculptures. Much of this artist’s work has focused on transforming everyday items and he often involves a sense of movement. As you walk around the stacks of dishes, they appear to wobble as if they might topple at any moment.
Many of the pieces in the Broad are monumental in scale, none more so than Chris Burden’s kinetic sculpture Metropolis II. Like the dream creation of a ten-year old boy, Metropolis II fills a room with hundreds of structures enveloped by roads and train tracks. Hundreds of cars race around the track providing, as the artist states, “the stress of living in a dynamic, active, and bustling 21st Century city.”
When I first arrived, it wasn’t running (it is on only on for an hour at a time) but I was still struck by the scale of the work and the many small details that caught my eye. However, when I returned to see it in motion, I was truly mesmerized.
Richard Serra’s Band provided a more contemplative experience. The large, curving metal sculpture invites visitors to explore its internal spaces, reminiscent of a meditation maze.
I ended my visit to the Broad Contemporary Art Museum by spending some time in the large room that holds only Bruce Nauman’s For Beginners. The viewer is almost overwhelmed by the sound of the artist’s voice as he counts out the various combinations of finger positions shown on the large screen in the center of the room.
(Chris Burden, Urban Light, Photo: Art and Perception)
My time at LACMA was short but extremely rewarding. If, unlike me, you are lucky enough to be there at nightfall, make sure to stop by Urban Light, another installation by Chris Burden. The softly glowing light provides a great contrast to his frantic Metropolis II and it is the perfect spot to quietly contemplate the fantastic artworks in the Broad’s collection.