Exhibition Inquisition

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

Posts Tagged ‘train

Chapter 2 (Part 3): Venture Philanthropy & Other Styles of Giving

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“Andrew Carnegie said, ‘He who dies with wealth dies in shame.’ And someone once said, ‘He who gives while he lives also knows where it goes.’”[i]Eli Broad

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 (to 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.

Walter De Maria's "The 2000 Sculpture" installed in the Resnick Pavilion.

Walter De Maria’s “The 2000 Sculpture” installed in the Resnick Pavilion.

Broad can also be measured to his contemporaries. Los Angeles is not actually a one-philanthropist town.  “Pomegranate QueenLynda 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.

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KOONS’S TRAIN

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LACMA

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.

Letting off some steam: model by Koons.

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 »

Summer Exhibitions

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LACMA

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.

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John Bannon “Transit” (2005)

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CTA Headquaters

When I first came to Chicago, I loved CTA, mostly because I have a U-Pass, which allows me to get  myself about without worrying about paying for ride fare.  Life was great and I was loving public transportation, reveling in it even (especially after LA Metro).  And then something horrible happened.  On the morning of Saturday the 16th, after a night of innocent fun (it may have been four in the morning…), I went to the Blue line to head home.  What happened?  The machine ate my U-Pass.  Suddenly CTA was not so amazing. Having to pay $2.25 for each measly hop on a bus or train was miserable.  Not as miserable as calling CTA Customer Service every day for five days straight trying to be polite as possible, culminating in a mad dash to CTA Headquarters in an attempt to pick up a well-deserved 7 day courtesy pass.  But no, CTA added insult to injury.  4:31 is the exact time I reached the CTA Headquarters, one minute after 4:30, and the security guard (who takes his job WAAAY too seriously) wouldn’t let me up to the second floor to pick up my pass.  After sharing some very appropriate words with Mr. Security Guard, I left, angry (in need of some retail therapy) and spent the rest of the weekend paying for each individual train and bus ride.  On Monday I finally picked up my courtesy pass (still waiting on that new U-Pass).  Thank god I have a blog where I can complain about this saga in such a public way.  Okay but for real this does have to do with an art installation.

Hold that thought.

When I returned to the CTA Headquarters on Monday, I noticed an art installation in their lobby (I hadn’t noticed it the first time because I was too enraged).  High above the lobby floor was what looked like an abstract mess of neon squiggels.  This knot of neon lines is ingeniously titled Transit (2005), and was commissioned for the CTA lobby from artist John Bannon.  It isn’t until you proceed to the second floor that the neon squiggles of Transit make sense.  Looking out over the lobby, you come face to face with a quaint scene of a train rumbling down a subway tunnel (in neon lights no less).  Oh yay! Some art to look at while you wait in this ridiculous customer service line!

Transit reminds me of the only thing I remember from my astronomy classes (yes, I’ve taken multiple).  There is this thing called “parallax.”  I don’t really know what it means but I remember the word, and remember how it was illustrated at the Griffith Observatory in a display called “A Familiar Star Pattern.”  In the display is an arrangement of lights which visitors can walk around.  The lights represent stars (duh) in a cluster.  Only when you stand in one particular spot do you realize this arrangement of lights slash stars is the big dipper constellation.  But if you view it from any other position you don’t see the big dipper.

It’s parallax! I think.

Transit works like the big dipper display at Griffith Observatory.  From below, all you see is a tangle of neon lights. When you stand directly in front of the installation, the neon strands magically arrange themselves into a scene with a train! How cool is that?  It’s actually really cool.  Then if you walk around (the parallax thing happens again) and the scene disappears.  But if you go around and view the work from an angle 90 degrees from the frontal view, you see another scene in neon, this time with a bus in it! Well this is fun.

If this effect isn’t called “parallax,” I don’t really care.

Accompanying Transit, in the hell that is CTA Headquarters, is one of those cows that are everywhere  in Chicago. This bovine is painted, very proactively, like a bus.  Chi-town was the first city to do this project, but now every city seems to have similar projects of painted animals (in San Francisco they have don’t have an animal, they have hearts, and in Palm Springs they have Bighorn sheep), my favorite is the town with beavers (this link is SO worth clicking).

I doubt anyone in the long-ass customer service line was looking at the artwork.  But you know what?—In Chicago, that doesn’t matter, art is everywhere in this city.  Public art is literally everywhere, and here is a brochure from the DCA to prove it.  Chicagoans are force-fed public art every single day.  Personally, I don’t mind the art feeding tube; I like seeing the Picasso everyday when I get off the blue line, and I’m not going lie; I love looking out over Millennium Park everyday at school.

This installation is so easy to navigate.

One last and actually really awesome (sarcasm? Me? Never!) thing about the neon CTA art: So that random cluster of neon lights that you see looking up at Transit from the lobby—It’s actually a map of the train system!  It’s parallax times three.  I don’t think many people know how cool this work is (and it took me many minutes of googling to find anything about it).  So now you know.  But it’s not like I’m encouraging you to take the convenient green line down to CTA Headquarters to see it, screw CTA.

– H.I.