Posts Tagged ‘Michael Govan’
Eli Broad’s power is tolerated because it remains remarkably unchallenged. This seemingly monopoly of philanthropic power led Christopher Knight to compare Broad to another infamous, Los Angeles art patron:
[Norton] Simon’s flirtations with giving [his] collection away (at least seven institutions); distrust of traditional museum management; engineering of a bailout of an artistically adventuresome but financially faltering institution (the old Pasadena Museum for Simon, MOCA for Broad); later deciding to open his own museum, and more…[ii]
Another similarity to Broad: Before Norton Simon’s takeover of the Pasadena Art Museum, Simon had intended to establish his collection as a lending organization. Taking control of the Pasadena Art Museum proved irresistible to Simon, and today the Norton Simon Museum rarely loans works. I seriously doubt unfounded rumors that Broad has some kind of evil master plan to takeover or somehow combine his collections with MOCA.
Broad can also be measured to his contemporaries. Los Angeles is not actually a one-philanthropist town. “Pomegranate Queen” Lynda Resnick is an easy comparison. Like Broad, Resnick is a long-time donor and trustee of LACMA. Like Broad, she and her husband provided funds ($54 million) for a Renzo-Piano-designed building at LACMA. The Lynda and Stuart Resnick Pavilion was part of Phase 2 of LACMA’s Transformation and sits directly north of BCAM. When the pavilion opened in October of 2010, one of three inaugural shows was gleaned from the Resnick’s private collection.
When I began writing this update to my previous post, I thought a list of bullets with links to the LA Times would suffice, but then I realized a crazy amount of MOCA drama has occurred in just over a year. At least Vanity Fair journalists who love to write about the LA art scene have plenty of material.
It’s easy to make accusations about MOCA’s obsession with celebrity considering the museum’s galas. Following Francesco Vezzoli‘s Lady Gaga gala in 2009, the museum hosted a gala directed by Marina Abramovic in 2011. The Abramovic gala drew the ire of some for being exploitative of performers who served as live centerpieces… Debbie Harry also performed, and the whole shebang culminated in Harry and Abramovic hacking into cake-effigies of themselves… Last this year’s gala happened on 4-20, and was themed appropriately – Cheech Marin attended and guests wore Hawaiian leis for some reason.
In fall 2008, a long-term beneficiary of Eli Broad’s largesse was in alarming financial trouble; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) could no longer hide its vertiginous financial mess. In an article titled “L.a.’s Moca In Deep Financial Trouble,” the Los Angeles Times reported MOCA had mismanaged its finances for more than a decade.[ii] The board of trustees had almost completely drained the $200 million endowment by regularly dipping into it to cover costs of expensive exhibitions and operating overhead; overspending an average $1 million a year since 2000.[iii] The public was shocked and enraged; consequently, there was a rapid exodus of board members.[iv] MOCA needed a hero with a rescue plan.
LACMA’s Michael Govan proposed one rescue plan: a partnership in which MOCA would maintain its independence and retain at least one of its venues (the Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo) and in exchange MOCA would share its collection with LACMA.[v] Details of the offer were never fully disclosed, but it seemed to be Govan’s attempt to secure a large and well-regarded contemporary art collection for LACMA, and a way to reduce (if not eliminate) LACMA’s need of the Broad collections.
Govan’s offer seemed to be the final straw in the already strained relationship between him and Broad. Broad openly chastised Govan in the Los Angeles Times for his proposed merger plan, and curiously quoted the film Jerry McGuire to demand, “Show me the money.”[vi] Broad had proposed his own rescue plan and was offering a $30 million lifeline to MOCA. Govan was meddling in his plans.
“Even though Eli is not involved with the museum any longer, his name is still on that building. We should have never called it a museum. How can LACMA have a museum? LACMA is the museum.”
– Lynda Resnick, LACMA Trustee[i]
In February 2008, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The Renzo Piano-designed BCAM is not an autonomous museum; it is one of several buildings on LACMA’s museum campus (the largest American art museum west of Chicago).
LACMA was founded in 1961, when it seceded from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in Exposition Park. The new art museum opened in 1965 with three buildings designed by William Pereira: the Bing, Ahmanson and Hammer buildings. In 1986, the Art of the Americas Building (then the Anderson Building) opened, and was followed in 1988, with the Pavilion for Japanese Art. The museum continued to grow when LACMA purchased the neighboring May Company department store building in 1994. (LACMA is currently collaborating with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to bring a museum to the vacant building.[ii]) In 2001, plans for a tabula rasa campus designed by Rem Koolhaas were scrapped due to its ambitious scale (all existing buildings would have been raised) and lack of public support (a proposed bill would have provided public funds for the project, but was not passed by voters[iii]). Then in 2004, the board approved a multi-year capital campaign called Transformation.[iv]
Michael Govan, Wallis Annenberg Director and CEO of LACMA, inherited Transformation when he took LACMA’s helm in 2006 (little more than a year before BCAM’s inauguration). Exciting, high profile, high-cost building projects are Govan’s specialty. Before coming to LACMA, Govan had been the director of the Dia Art Foundation where he oversaw the renovation of an old Nabisco factory in the Hudson River Valley, into Dia Beacon—a gargantuan facility capable of housing many large-scale, contemporary art installations. Before Dia, Govan worked under Richard Armstrong at the Guggenheim Foundation and aided in the realization of the Guggenheim Bilbao. Govan had the resume required to lead LACMA during Transformation. Eli Broad was on the search committee that lured Govan to LACMA.[v]
There have been a lot of announcements from on high lately. The critics have begun to weigh-in on the recent appointment of Timothy Potts as the new director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Getty also disclosed a list of its highest paid personnel. Here’s an infographic to help make things easier.
What is 70 feet long, suspended by a 160-foot-tall crane, and will cost an estimated $25 million dollars?—Jeff Koons’s Train, of course. The massive sculpture is now several years along in planning; its realization prolonged by several factors. The most retarding factor: the economy. When and if realized (a big “if”), Train will consist of a replica 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive hung on its end by a Liebherr LR 1750 lattice-boom crane. Twice a day the train’s engine will hum to life, pistons will churn, wheels will spin, and finally jets of steam will explode from the train’s stack , while its whistle screams. Considering its authorship and this suggestive action, it is easy to read Train as a giant orgasmic metaphor.
This sexy piece is commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). It will hang over the museum courtyard, behind the BP Pavilion, next to the Broad Contemporary Art (BCAM) and Resnick Pavilion buildings. All of the buildings are recent additions to museum’s campus—part of LACMA’s multi-year, capital campaign called “Transformation.” This western portion of LACMA’s campus is the product of the creative leadership and powerful fundraising accumen of Michael Govan, Wallis Annenberg Director and CEO of LACMA. Read the rest of this entry »
LACMA’s near acre of new exhibition space, the Resnick Pavilion, means LACMA has a lot of exhibitions to program. And they seem up to the task. After the three inaugural shows (Olmec, Fashion, and Eye for the Sensual), LACMA has managed to keep the Resnick Pavilion at full capacity. There are three shows currently in the space: David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy, Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts, and LACMA’s ticketed blockbuster: Tim Burton. The shows keep with Michael Govan’s strategy for offering unrelated coinciding shows in the Resnick Pavilion.
Across from the Resnick Pavilion, is Renzo Piano’s other LACMA building, BCAM; it too has been kept full. The top floor is still stocked with Broadworks, the second floor is being deinstalled from the recent permanent collection show Human Nature, and the ground floor just had one of the massive Serra sculptures deinstalled, to make room for a new Burden work, which is going to be AWESOME.