Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Posts Tagged ‘donors

Chapter 3 (Part 6): Private Collector Museum Conclusions

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“If you look at history, too many great collections ended up in storage and not being shown.”[i] – Eli Broad

The Great Tactician.

The Great Tactician.

Eli Broad, like Alice Walton, the Fishers and George Lucas, has a long history with the city in which he practices his “venture philanthropy.” Broad was not born in Los Angeles, but like the Fishers in San Francisco, he has a long involved history with existing arts and cultural institutions. He has sat and currently sits on the boards of many art museums. Like the Fishers, Lucas and Walton, his decision to build a museum to house his art collection is motivated (partially) by his commitment to his city. But Broad is also doing something in addition to what the Fishers, Lucas and Walton did with their museums; he is utilizing his museum project as leverage for further economic growth. Sure Walton sees Crystal Bridges as having a positive economic effect on Bentonville, but there is nothing in Bentonville: Crystal Bridges is the local economy. Broad is building his museum, not in a rural city, but in the second-most highly populated city in America. Los Angeles already has the strongest brand of any city in the world, and an existing diversified economy. Sure, part of Los Angeles’ economy depend on arts and culture, but it arguably has plenty of existing organizations and venues. If Eli Broad had attempted to build his museum in a place like San Francisco, he might have come up against more public opposition as did the Fishers and Lucas.

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Richard Serra, “Sequence”

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SFMOMA, Cantor Arts Center, LACMA

This week, SFMOMA released additional renderings of its eminent expansion including new views of the interior.  Snohetta (the chic, Norwegian architects) and SFMOMA haven’t been apologetic or really skirted the issue about plans to basically gut the entire existing building, keeping only Mario Botta’s  postmodern façade.  Climbing SFMOMA’s imposing stairs is literally my first memory of being in a museum.  As a kid, I tried to recreate the alternating bands of polished and flame-finished black granite of these stairs with a set of sleek dominoes on my living room floor.   A friend and I lamented the demise of Botta’s staircase the last time we visited SFMOMA and we brainstormed potential artist projects that might utilize the soon-to-be-dismantled stairs.  (The SFMOMA expansion is going to be LEED Certified so maybe some of the black stone will be reclaimed.)

Sequence at SFMOMA of the future.

“Sequence” at SFMOMA of the future.

Alas, the released images show all of this will be eliminated in the expansion, sacrificed for the sake of greater street presence and improved openness to pedestrian traffic flow.  (The $555 million expansion will also double the current amount of gallery space, so there is that.)  New public space includes a multi-storied, glass-fronted gallery open to Howard Street.  In the renderings, this gallery space is filled with a massive Richard Serra corten-steel sculpture.  This isn’t just a filler “scalie” artwork; Serra’s Sequence (2006) will be installed in the new space when the Snohetta expansion opens in 2016.  Sequence is part of the Fisher collection, the donors who generous donated many buckets of ducats for the expansion, and who are kinda-sorta donating their incomparable trove of contemporary art to the museum.

Sequence on Howard Street.

“Sequence” on Howard Street.

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Donors: British Petroleum

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FRANK GEHRY BRIDGE

My new view: Millennium Park

I have now begun life in Chicago (including being ejected from my first Chicago club), but fear not, I still have a few more, leftover LA posts to write.  I wanted to do a quick post to celebrate my arrival in Chicago and plan on posting semi-regularly about my new city.  I literally know no one in this city, which is why a familiar “face” was appreciated.  I’m talking about the Frank-Gehry-designed Amphitheater and Bridge in Millennium Park.  I get to look out over these beauties daily, so be jealous.

Who paid for this puppy?

The other day I decided to walk around the park, and walked over the bridge.  I had no idea that the sponsor of the bridge was *drum roll* British Petroleum aka BP.  Now BP has been in the news a lot lately because of that little oil spill in the Gulf Coast, you may have heard about it.  Cultural institutions that receive sponsorships from BP have also been feeling the heat, especially in the UK. Back in home in Los Angeles, the LA Times tried to stir some shit over LACMA’s BP Grand Entrance—the big, red, structure behind Urban Light.  I was curious if anyone in Chicago had gotten any shit for the BP bridge in Millennium Park.  I couldn’t find any signs of oil splattered on the bridge so I assume it has remained unharmed and ignored by the mudracking press. (LACMA made a good move by saying to comment.)

LACMA’s BP Grand Entrance installed with Choi Jeong-Hwa’s HappyHappy.

I think it is tremendously important to be aware of the sources of funding for cultural projects and for cultural organizations to remain transparent about their sources of funding.  BP is an evil corporation, obviously, but does that mean our cultural organizations are evil too? Should they be ridiculed for accepting buckets of ducats from less-than-kosher sources of funding?  Let’s stop being so ignorant.  The only reason museums and other cultural organizations turn to these sources of funding is because they can’t function alone from local and federal funding. The public certainly isn’t supporting these organizations either, so I don’t think the public is in a position to be so uppity about organizations taking money from Big Business.

Blood Money?

So I am going to enjoy my BP Bridge, but I’m going to enjoy it without be ignorant.  I am conscious about the sources of money for cultural organizations, and can reconcile this: at least some of the billions of dollars made by the corrupt oil industry are going towards supporting the arts. It could be spent on other things.

– H.I.

P.S. In other news, ExhibitionInquisition has now had over 10,000 views! Not bad for a project that started out as a homework assignment.  Also check out this video (skip to 2:00) the music seems a bit extreme.

Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Today only, except not.

This above sign is misleading…

Because I am an avid reader of LACMA’s Unframed blog, I knew that LACMA was having a two-day only viewing of it’s brand-spanking-new building the Resnick Pavilion.  Of course I made sure to get my self over to LACMA to see the building, I’ve been eager anticipating its completion since I attended the press conference announcing the museum’s Transformation Phase II.  The day of the press conference all that was at the site of the planned building was a huge slab of concrete with red painted words announcing the Resnick Pavilion.

Yes, of course it’s in the Baldessari-designed LACMA font.

Well it turns out that LACMA had such great attention with its first preview, it decided to do another one-day-only viewing about a month later.  I still feel special, but not as special.  I especially wanted to see the building since I won’t be in LA when it opens in the beginning of October.

LACMA's Westside

The soon-to-be-finished building is, like its neighbor BCAM, designed by Renzo Piano.  (The new building has affectionately been dubbed the Baby Piano).  The Renzos face each other, both faced (oh word choice) in travertine marble, and mirror each other with their mostly glass facades.  Both buildings also have signature accents of red.  The BCAM has “the spider” escalator in glaring fire-truck-engine red, and the new Resnick Pavilion has huge HVAC units painted the same optimistic color.

When will this red cease to be an accent color?

Surrounding the building is Robert Irwin’s Palm Garden, which has been an evolving project at LACMA. I am all for palm trees, and was sad when exploring Chicago earlier this summer to discover the palm does not flourish in climes where it tends to snow.  Interior:  The building may seem vapid, but that is because it was designed specifically for temporary exhibitions.  The pavilion serves as a huge art warehouse, an acre of space with which the curator may do what with it he or she pleases.  Think lots of temporary walls.

Reflections of BCAM

The whole front of the building (the side that faces BCAM of course) is nearly a whole wall of floor-to-ceiling glass.  The use of natural light dominates the space; the Resnick Pavilion has the same saw-toothed roof that BCAM has, which allows plenty of natural sunlight to flood the interior.

Term of the Day: "Sawtoothed"

The space is epically big.  And of course Michael Govan wasn’t going to let the public sneak a peak at an empty building.  A temporary installation of Walter de Maria’s The 2000 Sculpture, had been laid out with loving devotion inside the pavilion.  All 2000 polygonal plaster rods of it.

Like throwing a hotdog down a hallway.

The installation of de Maria’s work filled the entire central third of the building.  There are two rows of support columns, which divide the interior into three long sections…Along the otter thirds of the space, one could see (what I think is the only problem with the building) rows and rows of vents.

Equivalent to wire hangers.

The vents are violently distracting in the otherwise uninterrupted flow of the building.  Maybe the vents won’t be so distracting when exhibitions are installed.  Here’s me thinking wishfully.

Room with a view.

Light streams in through the north end of the building as well.  Another almost-entire glass wall looks out onto 6th avenue. It’s unclear where the planned land art piece, Levitated Mass, by Michael Heizer will be placed on the LACMA campus, but maybe it’s going to be somewhere out on that large patch of now, unremarkable dirt.

Coming soon to a pavilion near BCAM!

As mentioned before the leviathan of an interior is divided into three segments by the support columns.  And what a coincidence! LACMA is planning not one, not two, but three! inaugural exhibitions for the Resnick Pavilion (again all opening the beginning of October).  Words cannot describe how sad I am to be missing this opening. I’ve anxiously watched the progress of this building and hope to see the finished product when I visit LA in winter, hopefully before these shows close.

Never forget to thank your donors.

– H.I.

Interesting: when I visited the Resnick Pavilion on the preview day it seemed like a lot of people (most those of us slightly older of age) where having severe problems with the steps in front of the building.  LACMA had station guards (visible in picture on the left) to warn people about the shallow steps, which as you exited the building were actually invisible.  A more recent visit revealed that the life-threatening steps have been jackhammered away.  My guess is that someone (probably important and probably white-of-hair) almost tripped and died and may of have said something.  I actually have no evidence of this, so I’m not suggesting anything. Yay safety upgrades!

Taking care of a lawsuit-waiting-to-happen.

Related: Apparently there is a was being waged in LA betwixt LACMA and MOCA! See this um, interesting Vanity Fair article.  The online version doesn’t have the fab! photograph of Lynda and Stewart Resnick (yes the people that paid for this building) lounging in their Beverly Hills abode.  I’ll try and scan my copy, because this photo is priceless.