Los Angeles’s newest contemporary art museum, the Broad, sits across the street from Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall. Few buildings could be expected to rival the space-age angles of Gehry’s iconic 2003 structure, but the Broad certainly tries, presenting itself as a work of art on par with the contemporary masterpieces it was built to house.
The Broad opened on September 20 last year, as the city’s second richest museum behind the Getty — its endowment of $200 million is more than the endowments of the neighboring Museum of Contemporary Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — as well as the latest addition to the developing downtown arts district. Commissioned by the billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, the $140 million museum showcases the couple’s more than 2,000-piece post-war art collection.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the New York architecture firm best known for the High Line in Manhattan and the Contemporary Institute of Art in Boston, designed the 11,000-square-meters museum with the dominating Walt Disney Hall in mind. In contrast to Gehry’s smoothly curved titanium panels, which make up a haphazardly layered, extroverted facade, the Broad is solidly square with an asymmetric base and a matte exoskeleton of an exterior made of fiberglass-reinforced concrete. The honeycomb facade diffuses natural light inside the building and compliments the skylights on the roof while keeping the Broad’s considerable collection of post-war art safe from overexposure.
The art collection includes works by the leading lights of modern art, including painter Jasper Jones, pop artists Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein, Joseph Beuys, Damien Hirst, Sharon Lockhart and Kara Walker, plus the world’s largest collection of Cindy Sherman pieces.
Jeff Koons is renowned for his playful sculptures, although some critics question if it is art. Puffles and Honey loved them!
Celebration, an ongoing Koons series of sixteen paintings and twenty sculptures, rejoices in the rituals and images surrounding birthdays, holidays, and other party occasions. Tulips, 1995–2004, is among the grandest and most technically complex objects in the series, providing a perfect illusion of balloon flowers, constructed of seamless and mirror-polished stainless steel.
Robert Therrien’s manipulations of everyday objects alter the viewer’s psychic as well as physical space. Removed of their functionality and altered in unfamiliar ways, the objects gain metaphoric value while navigating influences as diverse as Greek sculpture, the innovations of Marcel Duchamp, and early animation.
In Under the Table, 1994, the viewer is both in the world of imaginary giants and in the world of remembered childhood. Fusing Alice in Wonderland with the Duchampian tradition of the ready-made, Therrien constructs a doppelgänger from an everyday object, both displaying his visual wit and actualizing literary or imaginative fantasy in three-dimensional space. The table exudes an extraordinary aura, compelling one to walk underneath the table and conjuring the physical memory of being under the table of one’s childhood home. Complicated and powerful, the work offers fresh ideas of what a table, sculpture and memory can mean.
Plates are an important motif in Therrien’s practice. This work is one of a series of stacked plate sculptures the artist has made which vary in medium, size and colour. Here, Therrien has created a vast tower of oversized plastic plates that tilt at precarious angles. The simple utilitarian plate design is modelled on a type of mass-produced kitchen ware popular in the early to mid-twentieth century in the roadside diners that appeared with the increasing use of cars in the United States at that time.
Born in Ghana and based in Nigeria, El Anatsui crafts bottle caps, reused aluminum commercial packaging, copper wire, and other materials into giant shimmering sheets of what he calls “cloths.” These metallic cloths are pliable and change according to how they are displayed in a gallery. In many ways, Anatsui’s work recalls traditional African kente cloth, which is made by weaving long strips into a patchwork whole. For the artist, as the son and brother of professional kente weavers, the kente cloth has both personal meaning and symbolic power.
Anatsui’s beautiful quilts of silver and dull gold transcend their materials to become a metaphor for shifting contexts and images of Africa. Embedded in the metal fragments are multiple histories and influences, ranging from the effects of the colonial period on Africa to current problems facing its people, including alcoholism, pervasive poverty, and the impact of global markets on the continent’s economies. Anatsui’s work also carries a poetic import. Critic Holland Cotter describes the pieces as reflections of “an African essence of three interchangeable parts always in motion: memory, reality, determination.”
Puffles and Honey also found works by Takashi Murakami who they know well.
Takashi Murakami is one of the most visible and important Japanese artists working today. Murakami’s influence on Japan rivals Andy Warhol’s on the United States, and he is known for disseminating and promoting pop art strategies in ways unforeseen by American critics and artists. Unifying many strands of culture that are frequently considered in opposition — traditional Japanese painting with Western influences, the realm of fine art with otaku lifestyle (juvenile culture obsessed with toys, anime, and video games), and commercial retail spaces with museums and other public venues — Murakami’s work is recognized for its ambition, polish, and fine execution.
Takashi Murakami’s massive 25m painting, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, reflects on the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Murakami discovered that roughly 150 years earlier, after the great Ansei Edo earthquake of 1855, artist Kano Kazunobu had created a large grouping of monumental scrolls conjuring the five hundred arhats, the traditional stewards of Buddha’s teaching. Murakami, through the post–World War II lens of Japan’s pervasive pop culture, again revived the arhats. In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow portrays a cartoonish, spiritual landscape, awash in an enormous tsunami of churning water. The work is a specific reference to a Japanese history of natural disasters and an attempt to place suffering into a visual language.
Art appreciation made little bears hungry so they stopped at a food truck for a little quesadilla ☺
Then it was time for a little cocktail…
And another snack…
On the Queen Mary!
Puffles and Honey had heard rumors about the Queen Mary bear so they went in search of him…