The Broad: Making LA An Art Town

When I think of my hometown, Los Angeles, California, palm trees, expansive beaches and rainbow sunsets come to mind. I start to crave In n’Out Burger, hot pilates and early morning hikes in Runyon Canyon, $20 Juice Served Here smoothies (worth it, I swear) and the ever perfect ‘Trust Me’ menu at Sugarfish. I think of lazy strolls on Abbot Kinney, movie premieres taking over Hollywood Boulevard, hip hop nights at the club and performers on the Venice boardwalk. What I do not think of however, is art.

Now, before you go telling me how LA has a “killer art scene,” yes, of course I realize there is art in LA. From street art on every major boulevard, to Renaissance masterpieces at the Getty, and gallery private views with drinks flowing almost every weekend, by no stretch of the imagination is the City of Angels not a City of Art as well. However, living in London currently and having lived in New York, I never thought of my city as quite up to par with my adopted homes art-wise, at least not until The Broad.

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The Broad, exterior

The Broad has changed everything.

Marketed, quite accurately, as ‘LA’s new contemporary art museum,’ the building, by design firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is a piece of art in itself gracing the skyline of Downtown LA. Inside, the vast-beyond-comprehenstion postwar and contemporary collection of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad awaits. Just to be transparent, that’s 2,000 works of art collected over the course of 50 years, and including the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cy Twombly, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami, Ed Ruscha, Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman and Christopher Wool, to name but a few.

Two floors of gallery space become the theatre for the works on view, as they live and breathe within the brilliantly lit space. A unique ‘veil and vault’ system is utilised in the building design to achieve this lighting miracle and simultaneously give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at any of the art in storage. The ‘vault,’ as it sounds, is where works from the collection not currently on display are stored, but many of the walls of the vault are glass, so museum-goers can take a sneak peek inside. The ‘veil,’ is a honeycomb-like structure that encompasses the entire building, providing filtered natural light and metaphorically, as it were, protecting the vault within.

Aside from the two main galleries, there is currently an incredibly special installation in the lobby, Yayoi Kusama‘s ‘Infinity Mirrored Room.’  Upon entering the museum, you have the opportunity to queue for a chance at one single minute inside the magic. To say it’s worth it, would be an understatement. It feels like a brief moment in another world; peace, wonder and joy envelope you.

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Yayoi Kusama, ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’

As you can tell from the photo, I personally could not have had a better start to my visit!

Another installation that I found exceptionally captivating was Ragnar Kjartansson‘s ‘The Visitors‘ (2012). To create the piece, the Icelandic artist invited a group of friends to spend a week with him at a farm in upstate New York. In the work itself, each guest plays a different instrument or sings in a different room of the house. They are all playing/singing the same song but each participant is alone, in his/her own unique space. The filming of each participant was done in one take, so the vibe is extremely raw and real. The work is displayed in its’ own gallery space on individual screens, one featuring each musician. Standing in the gallery, which is lit only by the screens, you can hear the song as a whole, but at the same time, you are aware that each person is performing as a solo artist — that the individual, distinct performances come together to make the whole, just as each separate room of the house comes together to make up the home.

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Ragnar Kjartansson, ‘The Visitors’

Here are some other photos I snapped of the collection, though I’ll be the first to say no image could do the experience justice, just as no other museum could have made me truly acknowledge that Los Angeles is an art city after all.

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Jeff Koons
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Jeff Koons & Christopher Wool
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Takashi Murakami
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Takashi Murakami
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Keith Haring & Jean-Michel Basquiat
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Roy Lichtenstein d’apres Pablo Picasso
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Cy Twombly
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Jasper Johns
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Anselm Kiefer

– India Irving

The Broad; 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90012; Admission: FREE; Book tickets online HERE




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