JohnsonRoadProjects Summer 2015 exhibition: The Red, Green and Yellow Show by Los Angeles based artist and writer Vincent Johnson

The October Paintings - Orange Summer

The October Paintings – Orange Summer

The October Paintings - Grey Sea

The October Paintings – Grey Sea

The October Paintings - Red Bottle in Green

The October Paintings – Red Bottle in Green

JohnsonRoadProjects is the new artist run space and curatorial inquiry by Los Angeles based artist and writer Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson’s The Red, Green and Yellow Show at Johnson Road Projects in Los Angeles – Summer 2015 exhibition

Art Aragon Golden Boy Bail Bonds
Art Aragon Golden Boy Bail Bonds, color photograph by Vincent Johnson
The Green Bug (2010), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
The Deville
Deville Motel Downtown Los Angeles (2002), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
Southern Gents Private Club (South Central Los Angeles) (2002), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
New York Hostel Kitchen (2003), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
LA artist Vincent Johnson
Miami Beach Public Telephone (2014), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
Figueroa Hotel Parking Sign (2013), color photograph by Vincent Johnson

Welcome to the 2015 summer exhibition of Los Angeles-based artist and writer Vincent Johnson at Johnson Road Projects in Los Angeles. Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Painting and Critical Theory from Art Center College of Design. His work has been exhibited in major institutions in the U.S., Germany, Canada and Portugal. His work have been sold in art fairs in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Portland. Johnson’s works have been reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Vincent Johnson most recently presented his research on Belgian Congo copal painting media at Theaster Gates Black Artist Retreat [B.A.R] in Chicago. Johnson also recently interviewed artist William Pope L. at his nine part exhibition at MOCA in Los Angeles for FROG magazine.

This thematic exhibition is curated from the artist’s extensive body of works and is based solely upon the presence of the colors red/or green and/or yellow being found in the works. The exhibition includes both photographs and paintings that engage and capture iconic objects found in the American urban landscape. Each work appears to embody one of the three primary colors named in the exhibition’s title. The exhibition provides exposure to the works of these artists across the span of three months; additional works will be added to the exhibition over the duration of the show.

World Goes Pop at the Tate Modern – London




World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, review: ‘exhilarating’

Erró, Big tears for two 1963, Oil on canvas, 1300 x 2000 mm, Collection of the artist
Erró, Big tears for two 1963, Oil on canvas, 1300 x 2000 mm, Collection of the artist

Six years ago, Tate Modern staged a major exhibition exploring the legacy of Pop Art. Called Pop Life: Art in a Material World, it took as its mantra Andy Warhol’s notorious pronouncement that “Good business is the best art”, and argued that the soul of the Sixties movement was, in essence, a cold, hard dollar sign. Many of the featured artists working in Pop’s shadow – Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami – were shown to be interrogating moneymaking and capitalism, producing glossy art, precision-engineered for our era of high finance.

Now Tate Modern is examining Pop Art once again – yet the new exhibition is so radically opposed to its predecessor, you’d think it was considering another movement altogether. As a result, I have no doubt that The World Goes Pop will prove divisive: for some it will be a revelation, for others it will be intolerable. Either way, this courageous and enterprising exhibition gleefully rails against the oft-told orthodoxies of Pop Art like nothing I have witnessed.

To understand what I’m talking about, consider two oil paintings, in the final room, produced in 1973 by the Russian artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid. In each case, an “icon” of American Pop Art appears damaged by an unspecified apocalypse. Warhol’s tin of Campbell’s tomato soup is a sorry-looking, charred and threadbare thing. A fragment from Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 comic-book painting As I Opened Fire fares little better. These images are as close as the exhibition comes to presenting Pop Art’s big-hitters. The Tate owns Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych and Lichtenstein’s Whaam! (1963), two out-and-out masterpieces of classic American Pop. Yet, surprisingly, there isn’t room for either in the 10 galleries, containing around 160 artworks, of the new exhibition. In a sense, then, Komar and Melamid’s paintings represent the polemical argument of the exhibition as a whole. Incendiary and confrontational, The World Goes Pop puts a torch to everything we thought we knew about Pop Art.

Komar and Melamid, Post Art No 2 (Lichtenstein), 1973 (The Boxer Collection, London)
Komar and Melamid, Post Art No 2 (Lichtenstein), 1973 (The Boxer Collection, London) Credit: Komar and Melamid

Yet if none of the well-known grandees of Pop Art are on show here, then who is? The answer is: a raft of artists you’ve never heard of. The point of this exhibition is to move away from the hoary story of Anglo-American Pop Art, which was invented in London during the Fifties by the Independent Group, including Richard Hamilton (another notable absentee from the Tate show), before exploding in New York in the early Sixties.

Accordingly, The World Goes Pop showcases little-known artists from all four corners of the Earth, from Brazil to Japan, who engaged with Pop’s “spirit” during the Sixties and Seventies.

Hands up if you were already well versed in the oeuvre of the Polish artist Jerzy Ryszard “Jurry” Zielinski (1943-80). I certainly wasn’t. Yet here, in the opening gallery, is his brilliant painting Without Rebellion (1970): a close-up of a sickly white face, with two Polish eagles in front of red suns in place of eyes. From its bottom edge, a scarlet pillow, representing this unfortunate ghoul’s tongue, lolls out into our space, pinned in position by an enormous metal spike.

Like another work by Zielinski on show nearby, The Smile, or Thirty Years, Ha, Ha, Ha (1974), in which three ominous blue crosses stitch shut a pair of red-and-white lips floating against navy, Without Rebellion attacks censorship in the People’s Republic of Poland with great economy and formal poise – and a brutal frisson of menace. As Lichtenstein might say: KA-POW!

Zielinski is typical of the many artists in this exhibition who worked within the Pop mode pioneered in London and New York, but adapted it to their own political ends. In fact politics – in the sense of raging protest and mass demonstration – is an essential part of the curators’ new vision of global Pop. Everywhere we turn we find hard-left dissatisfaction with the political status quo. American imperialism, the Vietnam War, nuclear bombs, the corrosive promises of capitalism: all come in for a drubbing. Jeremy Corbyn would be in seventh heaven.

When it works well, as in Zielinski’s case, this sort of militant Pop is memorable: Norfolk-born Colin Self’s Leopardskin Nuclear Bomber No 2 (1963) is also a good example. This ambiguous artefact – part toy US bomber, part pink phallus – is clad in leopard skin, and sprouts alarming nails from its snout. It’s a Surrealist Object reconceived for the post-nuclear Pop age: horrifying – and great.

Too often, though, the politicised artworks offer little more than one-liners of protest – the sort of thing that would work well as a slogan on a placard, but is less interesting in a gallery. Indeed, some of the pieces in this vein are laugh-out-loud bad: Spanish duo Equipo Realidad’s Divine Proportion (1967), a pastiche of Leonardo’s famous Vitruvian Man as a US soldier, is both so woeful, aesthetically, and blunt, in terms of meaning, that it would barely pass muster as a newspaper cartoon.

Equipo Realidad, Divine Proportion 1967 (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid)
Equipo Realidad, Divine Proportion 1967 (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid) Credit: DACS 2015

Aside from politics, the other, arguably more successful theme is sex – specifically, the way that women are presented in the media. In the past, Pop Art has occasionally been criticised for being sexist. Recently, though, a number of forgotten female Pop artists have been rediscovered. Half a century ago, they were making important work focusing on their own subjective experiences, rather than presenting women as sex objects. The Tate exhibition offers a primer on their output.

Martha Rosler’s punchy photomontages fuse titillating fragments of naked bottoms, bellies, and breasts with white goods, including dishwashers, refrigerators and hobs. French artist Nicola L mines a similar seam in her playful yet acerbic “furniture”: her vinyl Woman Sofa (1968) is a jumble of female body parts.

Feminist Spanish artist Eulalia Grau is represented by her nightmarish but unforgettable Ethnographies series: in Pànic, the boot of a swish pink car opens to reveal the surreally large face of a woman stuffed inside, silently screaming, like the victim of a serial killer. Vacuum Cleaner is just as disturbing: a vacant, doll-like bride lies stiff on a carpet, at risk of being dusted into oblivion by a gigantic suction nozzle above her.

Eulalia Grau, Pànic (Etnografia), 1973 (collection of the artist)
Eulalia Grau, Pànic (Etnografia), 1973 (collection of the artist) Credit: DACS 2015

Judy Chicago, meanwhile, who attended an auto-body school in Los Angeles as the only woman in a class of 250 men, spray-paints vibrant patterns evoking wombs and women’s genitals onto car bonnets with acrylic automotive lacquer – at a stroke deflating America’s macho car culture. Chicago’s work appears in a small section towards the end called “Pop Folk”. This is a deliberately provocative oxymoron, since sleek, mechanical Pop is usually seen as the antithesis of homespun, handcrafted folk art.

For some, this gallery will prove too much – extending an already elastic definition of Pop Art to snapping point. Moreover, while revisionism may be a good thing, full-on regicide – omitting founding fathers of Pop Art such as Warhol and Lichtenstein – is strange. Warhol is a god of 20th-century art because he forged the visual language so readily adopted, consciously or not, by most of the artists in this exhibition. The final room, for instance, showcases German artist Thomas Bayrle’s Laughing Cow wallpaper from 1967, which makes sport of the logo of a famous brand of processed French cheese. Yet there is no mention of the fact that it would have been inconceivable without the precedent of Warhol’s own wallpaper, featuring huge pink cow heads floating against bright yellow, exhibited a year earlier.

Too many of these artists, then, are dressed in borrowed robes. They are the Pop equivalent of the Salon Cubists, who worshipped at the altar of those pioneering explorers of form, Picasso and Braque.

Other objections could be raised too. But, I suppose, this is par for the course with a show like this, which re-imagines Pop Art from top to bottom, transforming it from a nimble, knowing art form, specialising in flip irony with an ambiguous attitude towards capitalism, to a right-on movement of one-note sincerity and radical political beliefs. Such a profound overhaul will not be everyone’s tin of Campbell’s soup.

Overall, though, this raucous exhibition not only provides an exhilarating snapshot of the global counter-culture during the Sixties and Seventies, in all its neon, vinyl, faux-leopard-skin glory. It also refuses to tell the same old story.

And such an original approach – challenging accepted taste, as Pop Art did from the start – deserves respect.

Thurs -Jan 24; info: 020 7887 8888

Alastair Sooke’s Pop Art: A Colourful History (Viking) is out now 

The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern: How pop art was used as dissent

Tate Modern’s autumn show changes ‘the traditional story of Pop Art’


xxx by Andrzej Zieliński Todd-White

Zoe Pilger

Monday 14 September 2015 17:06 BST

In his 1975 autobiography Andy Warhol wrote: “The most beautiful thing in Tokyo is McDonald’s. The most beautiful thing in Stockholm is McDonald’s. The most beautiful thing in Florence is McDonald’s. Peking and Moscow don’t have anything beautiful yet.” Perhaps he was being ironic, which is worse.

I’ve never been taken by the mystique of Warhol, the most famous exponent of Pop Art. Rather, I think the rage of the late art critic Robert Hughes in his 2008 documentary The Mona Lisa Curse was righteous. Hughes hated the cult of wealth and emptiness which is Warhol’s legacy to the art world. Thankfully, there are no soup tins and Marilyns in the new exhibition, The World Goes Pop, at Tate Modern, London, though Warhol’s shadow is everywhere.

The intentions of the exhibition are good: rather than focus on the British and American tradition, the curators have searched hard for lesser-known artists from around the world who made Pop Art in the Sixties and Seventies as a form of dissent against systems of power: military dictatorships in Latin America, the war in Vietnam, the oppression of women. The aim here is not to idealise consumerism, but to “explode the traditional story of Pop Art”. Unfortunately, the exhibition is a mess.

The term Pop Art was coined in Britain in the 1950s. The British artist Richard Hamilton described it as “Popular (designed for a mass audience); Transient (short-term solution); Expendable (easily forgotten); Low Cost; Mass Produced; Young (aimed at Youth); Witty; Sexy; Gimmicky; Glamorous; and Big Business”.

Few works by American artists are included in the exhibition, but the works by international artists often use the visual language of American pop culture to critique American political and cultural domination. In this way, America remains the focus. A lot of the work feels too much in thrall to the charisma of the bully.

The walls are painted in lurid colours: bubble-gum pink and sour yellow. The aesthetic is often migraine-inducing, a frenzied mix of high and low culture, with hysterical montages that rail against their own raw material: the mass media. It’s great that so much feminist art is included, but a lot of it is not very good. This is a shame: the exhibition could offer an important archive of a period of intense female creativity.

A whole room is dedicated to the Czech artist Jana Želibská’s installation, Kandarya-Mahadeva (1969), named after a Hindu temple in India. The walls are adorned with huge, white, female figures and garlands of flowers. The genitals of the figures are covered by mirrors in which the viewer can see herself. It is a mystical homage to female eroticism. This is not a good use of space; it feels dated.

The novelist Angela Carter wrote on this tendency within the women’s movement: “If women allow themselves to be consoled for their culturally determined lack of access to the modes of intellectual debate by the invocation of hypothetical great goddesses, they are simply flattering themselves into submission (a technique often used on them by men).”

More successful is Consumer Art (1972-75), a film fragment by the Polish artist Natalia LL, which plays on a loop. It shows a close-up of a beautiful young blonde woman seemingly experiencing sexual ecstasy as a white foamy liquid dribbles out of her mouth. The film is a parody of the use of pornographic imagery in advertising, which gained force alongside the sexual revolution of the time. But it is not just absurd; it is magnetic. In this way, the artist ensnares the viewer in a trap of desire. She makes you want what she is mocking.

Some of the best works in the exhibition come from Spain. The Punishment (1969) by Rafael Canogar is simple and stark. It is a sculpture of a man in a black suit who has fallen at the feet of an authority figure. The latter is no more than a dark shadow on wood, truncheon raised. The fallen man’s face is hidden. Perhaps the title of the work refers to the possible consequences of making the artwork itself. Franco had not yet died. This is art with much at stake.

A painting which hints at the horror beneath the surface of Franco’s Spain is Isabel Oliver’s Happy Reunion (1970-3). It shows a scene in a middle-class living-room: women are laughing and talking. It’s polite. But outside the window, a Dali-esque landscape of melting forms and swirling colour can be seen; it appears a psychosis, held at a distance. The image is undermined by the inclusion of a giraffe on fire. This makes the whole seem tacky.

Another striking work from Spain is Concentration or Quantity becomes Quality (1966) by the collective Equipo Crónica. The series of nine paintings shows a transformation from isolation to collective strength. In the first painting, a few solitary individuals are surrounded by vast grey space. Over the course of the series, the space fills up with people. In the last painting, there is a dense crowd. This work, too, was made in the last decade of the Franco regime: at that time, it perhaps reflected hope, rather than reality.

One of the worst paintings is Big Tears For Two (1963) by the Icelandic artist Erró. It shows a cartoon version of Picasso’s painting The Weeping Woman (1937) alongside a Disney cartoon of a weeping train. It is awful. The implication is that high art and low art have been levelled; one is no more profound than the other. Both expressions of grief are equally valid. Except that they are not.

Picasso’s painting conveyed the pain of a woman who was living through the Spanish Civil War. Her tears were representative of all those who had lost their loved ones during the fight against fascism. The crying cartoon train is an aberration in this context. It is offensively facile. The painting is quite hateful.

Yet Erró also made the American Interior series (1968), some of the most affecting anti-war images in the exhibition. These paintings on fabric show calm American suburban homes invaded by Viet Cong soldiers. They articulated a primal fear of American society, and reversed the reality: American soldiers were invading the homes of the Vietnamese at the time.

Some of the best works use graphic design in the service of activism. The French artist Gérard Fromanger’s Album the Red (1968-70) includes an image of a “bleeding” French flag. The red stripe drips into the white and the blue. It symbolises the wounding of the French establishment in the era of May 1968. Another imaginative protest work is The Red Coat (1969) by the French artist Nicola L. Made of bright red vinyl, this vast, tent-like coat can be worn by eleven people at once. They share a “collective skin”.

Several feminist works seem ripostes to the British artist Allen Jones’s female furniture, which caused outrage at the time because it showed women in positions of extreme submissiveness. Woman Sofa (1968) by Nicola L is a silver vinyl assemblage of female limbs, designed to be sat on. Whereas Jones’s fibre‑glass female dummies on all fours were grotesque but stylish works of art, Woman Sofa is just ugly. Perhaps ugliness here is a political principle.

Man Chair (1971) by the Czech artist Ruth Francken is a chair in the shape of a headless man. It is sleek and white and elegant, but it does not point to a new dawn of equality. Rather, it reverses the old power dynamic of master/slave. Mattress (1962) by the Argentinian artist Marta Minujín is simply a dirty old striped mattress; it shouldn’t have been included in the exhibition.

While much of Pop Art rejected the idea of “good taste” as elitist, good taste is badly needed in this exhibition. Too many of these works are nostalgic at best.

Tate Modern, London, 17 September to 24 January (


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Sep 18 2015 at 12:15 AM Updated Sep 18 2015 at 12:15 AM

Tate Modern exhibition reveals the dark side of Pop Art

In a new exhibition at Tate Modern in London, the political, purposeful side of the Pop Art movement comes under the spotlight.

Ushio Shinohara's "Doll Festival" is a surreal, yet prescient, comment on the Americanisation of Japanese culture.
Ushio Shinohara’s “Doll Festival” is a surreal, yet prescient, comment on the Americanisation of Japanese culture.
by The EconomistBernard Rancillac’s At Last, a Silhouette Slimmed to the Waist (pictured) contains a clear visual pun. Painted in 1966 and set against bright green jungle, it shows a soldier plunging a Vietcong prisoner headfirst into a large water vessel. Pushing his boot down on his captive’s back, gripping his twisted leg, the soldier submerges the man to the waist. At the top of the canvas, floating above this scene, five women stretch and pose in body-shaping lingerie. Labels point out their slimming corsets.

The work is at the heart of The World Goes Pop, a new exhibition about the global dimensions of Pop Art that opens at Tate Modern in London on September 17. The painting imitates magazines’ juxtaposition of fashion and news reporting, and pulls them together tightly with the title. The work can be hung either way up, the reversible composition presenting each exhibitor with a difficult decision: highlight the horrors of the Vietnam war or go for the latest fashion fad?

The choice encapsulates the paradox that is Pop Art, a movement that adopted the aesthetic of commercial design and popular culture – with its clear figuration, distinct colour, neat outlines, bold text and humour – for its own ends. Every work can read as eye-candy or erudite criticism; it can show froth or fury or both.

The World Goes Pop addresses this dialectic. Bringing together 160 works from the 1960s and 1970s and from across the world, it contests the idea that Pop was merely an adoring reflection of consumer culture and places the political, purposeful side of the movement under the spotlight. Its geographical range also forces a reassessment of the idea that Pop Art radiated solely from a small nucleus of artists based in New York and London.

"At Last, a Silhouette Slimmed to the Waist" by Bernard Rancillac can be hung either way up.
“At Last, a Silhouette Slimmed to the Waist” by Bernard Rancillac can be hung either way up. Tate Modern

There are works here from Japan, the Soviet Union, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. Barely any of the names frequently associated with it – Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Peter Blake – are included. Filling the colourful rooms instead is work that has never been shown in Britain, by artists whom most visitors will not have heard of (many of them, through ignorance or through active indifference, did not even see themselves as part of a Pop Art movement).

Unified diversity

Despite the diversity, a striking, playful aesthetic unifies the show. There are works that echo Warhol in their use of primary colours, brand logos and press photography. There are also the hard-edged lines, Ben-Day dots and comic-strip figures that frequent Lichtenstein’s work, and three-dimensional collages similar to Blake’s.

But the messages that these artists seek to convey are various, a point made straight away by the work in the introductory room. Among them is Ushio Shinohara’s Doll Festival, a striking triptych, three metres wide, in which blank-faced figures in traditional Japanese dress surround a man in a black Stetson in a surreal, yet prescient, comment on the Americanisation of Japanese culture. There is Evelyne Axell’s Valentine, in which a zip runs down a sinuous, painted silhouette, in a provocative gesture of female sexuality unleashed. Big Tears for Two, 1963, by Erró, an Icelandic artist, transmutes Picasso’s Weeping Woman into a jaunty cartoon, looking to expose the myths behind image making. Each represents a type of protest against the established norms. Passing through themed rooms with titles such as Pop Politics, Pop at Home and Folk Pop, it becomes clear that, across the world, artists were using a particular visual vocabulary, learnt from popular culture and commercial art, to give voice to political, personal and local concerns.

"Bombs in Love", by Kiki Kogelnik, 1962.
“Bombs in Love”, by Kiki Kogelnik, 1962. Tate Modern

This is not a comprehensive exhibition; Pop was not always protest. A lot of it celebrated everyday culture. Tate deliberately underplays these frivolous dimensions – it chooses the Vietnam war, not the underwear models. But this is a timely reassessment, given that works of Pop Art have become astoundingly expensive commodities, representative – cliches even – of a powerful luxury market. By throwing light on the darker side of Pop, Tate reveals its hidden depths.



Tate Modern highlights pop art by women ignored by sexist establishment

Many of the works overlooked in the 1960s and 70s will be seen in public for the first time when they go on display in London

Friends, 1971, by Kiki Kogelnik is part of the World Goes Pop exhibition at Tate Modern.
Friends, 1971, by Kiki Kogelnik is part of the World Goes Pop exhibition at Tate Modern. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex Shutterstock

Work by female artists from the 1960s and 70s that was marginalised and ignored by a sexist art establishment is finally getting recognition in a major pop art show at Tate Modern.

“It’s never too late,” said Jessica Morgan, curator of the World Goes Pop exhibition, explaining how she and her fellow curators spent five years uncovering the hidden stories from an art movement largely remembered as Anglo-American and male.

The part played by female artists in particular had been “removed and erased” from the story of pop art. One of those artists is Judy Chicago who made her name in 1979 with her installation The Dinner Party, on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum.

Bez Buntu by Jerzy Ryszard Zielinski.
Bez Buntu by Jerzy Ryszard Zielinski. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex Shutterstock

Asked how sexist the art establishment was in the 60s, Chicago threw up her arms and exclaimed: “Oh my God! When I left graduate school I was exhibiting in a climate that was unbelievably inhospitable to women. It was a real struggle.”

Chicago, whose work will be displayed at Tate Modern 50 years after she started it, recalled the response of her male teachers to the work. “There were wombs and breasts … eurgh! In the early 60s, I was just emerging from graduate school and making images like this and my male professors hated them – hated them! I had to change what I was doing or I would not have gotten my masters.”

The works are personal stories – represented by imagery that includes reproductive body parts – spray-painted on to car bonnets or hoods, but her teachers’ response meant she did not complete them until 2011.

The Tate Modern exhibition contains about 160 works, most of which are going on display in the UK for the first time. Some of the pieces by both female and male artists are from parts of the world not normally associated with pop art – including eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

“This show is fabulous, it’s wonderful,” said Chicago. “You think about pop art, you think about the white boys from America celebrating consumer culture. Who knew that the language was allowing artists around the world to bend it, to critique the policies of America, to critique the use of women in popular culture. Who knew?”

Dorothée Selz.
Dorothée Selz. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex Shutterstock

Morgan, meanwhile, said the art establishment of the 60s was undeniably sexist and many female artists were often doubly misunderstood because they were thought to be telling the same stories as their male counterparts.

The French artist Dorothée Selz is featured in the show with works from 1973, in which she recreates the poses of three pin-up girls. “It is the only time in my entire career that I used myself,” she said. “Pop art objectified women but I do this … it is another vision. There are excellent male pop artists like Allen Jones and Andy Warhol, but normally the woman is to be nice and beautiful and ready to eat. Here I am questioning that with humour.”

The idea of the exhibition is to show how pop art was far more than a celebration of western consumerism – it was also a subversive international language for criticism and protest.

Most of the works never made it into public collections and the majority are being lent to the gallery by artists or their estates.

Morgan said many of the pieces had a far harder edge than traditional pop art and were ahead of their time. “If you are based in Latin America and living through the junta taking place in Argentina and Brazil, your relationship to news media [and] to US commercial culture has a much more abrasive quality to it than the celebration we associate with most work in the US and the UK.”

She said the curators had been like excavators, discovering little-known works and stories from all over the world. “We encountered such an incredible bounty of work from all these different places. Much of it completely unfamiliar to me and my colleagues.”

The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop is at Tate Modern 17 September-24 January.



Tate Modern Tracks Pop Art’s Global Heft

A new exhibit at London’s Tate Modern examines pop art not only in America but around the world. The 67 artists in the show reveal the movement’s spread well beyond headliners like Warhol and Lichtenstein

Mississippi painter Joe Overstreet was flipping through a magazine in 1964 when he spotted an article about a former slave named Nancy Green. At the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, advertisers had hired Ms. Green to dress up as a servant to promote Aunt Jemima pancake mix, which was named for a fictional black cook. Mr. Overstreet, who is black, viewed the publicity stunt as racially charged and created “The New Jemima,” an oversize plywood pancake “box” portraying Green with a machine gun that shoots out pancakes.

“I liked the idea that she would cook with the machine gun and then if somebody [was] messing with her she’d be shooting them with the machine gun,” says Mr. Overstreet, now 82 years old.

Mr. Overstreet’s piece is one of 160 works in “The World Goes Pop,” an exhibition of 68 artists at London’s Tate Modern. The show, which opens Sept. 17, is the first to explore in-depth how artists in many other countries interpreted the movement dominated by white, male icons in America and the U.K. Works by women artists make up 40% of the exhibition. Previous major museums on the subject have focused on figures such as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and Roy Lichtenstein.

“Like everyone, I traditionally associated pop art with those big American names,” says Tate curator Flavia Frigeri.

Scholars characterize the pop-art movement, which began in the mid-1950s and reached its zenith in the 1960s, as preoccupied with politics, the American dream and consumer products, often depicted in sleek styles and bold colors. Ms. Frigeri sees these motifs in the works in the Tate show. But while Warhol and Lichtenstein reveled in ambiguity “about whether or not they were complicit with creating a consumer society or pushing back against it,” most pop artists she discovered opposed consumerism and sexism.

Joe Overstreet’s ‘The New Jemima,’ 1964 ENLARGE
Joe Overstreet’s ‘The New Jemima,’ 1964 Photo: Joe Overstreet

The Vietnam War, which began in the 1950s and concluded in 1975, was another topic for major American artists including the Swedish-born Oldenburg. But it also resonated in Europe and Latin America, where artists watched the conflict unfold on recently purchased televisions and opposed violence in Vietnamese communities.

For “the first time, the brutality of the war, the suffering of their people, was coming directly to me,” says octogenarian Brazilian artist Teresinha Soares who has two works in the show from a 1968 series titled “Vietnam.”

German artist Ulrike Ottinger says she had to retrieve her 1967-68 triptych featuring wars as pinball games from her mother’s storage area when the Tate asked to borrow the piece. Though Ms. Ottinger found success as a filmmaker, she and most pop artists in the show struggled to sell their work. Many of the artists haven’t sold their works at auction. Those who have generally fetched their highest prices between $6,000 and $30,000, according to auction analyst artnet. Some careers were hamstrung by the lack of strong ties between international dealers and the powerful New York pop scene.

“America was absolutely sovereign. There was no doubt already that it was dominating” the market in the 1960s and 1970s, says German artist Thomas Bayrle. His 1967 “Laughing Cow” wallpaper, inspired by Warhol’s 1966 silk-screen of cow heads, drew a cult following in Germany but didn’t take off elsewhere.

Mr. Overstreet, the Mississippi creator of “The New Jemima,” enlarged his work and sold it for $8,000 in 1970 to the Menil Collection in Houston. Andy Warhol’s “Race Riot,” a silk-screen portrait of violence against civil-rights protesters, sold last year at Christie’s for $62.8 million.

Specialists from Christie’s and Sotheby’s plan to see the show. Sotheby’s specialist Cheyenne Westphal says some of her North American clients are hoping to expand their pop art collections beyond famous names.

What’s Up? Check Out Frieze London 2015






What not to miss at Frieze London and Frieze Masters

What not to miss at Frieze London and Frieze Masters
For the last 13 years, Frieze London has been the biggest contemporary carnival in London’s art calendar. It’s the place to see and be seen, taking in all that the international art word has to offer under one roof. Then four years ago it was joined by its sister fair, Frieze Masters that bridged the gap between ancient and mid-century, making the Frieze Fair phenomenon a force to be reckoned with. So with thousands of artworks to see, where do you start? Here are just a few of the exhibits that you don’t want to miss.

Get down like Beyoncé to Frieze Masters

Frieze Masters 2014: Helly NahmadPhoto: Stephen Wells, Courtesy Stephen Wells/Frieze.

Last year, the stand-out booth of Frieze Masters came from Helly Nahmad who worked with a set designer to create a spectacular installation of a fictional collector’s home. Ol’ Beyoncé Instagramed her heart away at this exhibit and the gallery has promised something truly outstanding again this year, but what else can you expect? Lisson Gallery (E7) has dedicated their entire stand to the Cuban-born, New York-based artist Carmen Herrera in celebration of her 100th birthday. Richard Green (E2) will be bringing the Cornish coastline to the capital on his stand showing Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson together. And LA-based David Kordansky (C6) is going all colourful with a solo display of twentieth century American artist Sam Gilliam.

Keep it contemporary at Frieze London

Left: Mira Dancy at Night Gallery. Right: © Frieze London

Each year Frieze London wows audiences with bright, diverse, glitzy, unexpected and Instagrammable presentations of contemporary art. With 164 galleries under one roof, where do you start? Whether you like to strategically follow the grid layout or are more inclined towards an unorthodox approach, make sure you catch Los Angeles-based Night Gallery (G27), a new addition to the fair, with their solo display of Mira Dancy. If unconventional is your thing then seek out Jeremy Herbert’s underground chamber as part of Frieze Projects – there be stairs to we don’t know where! And why not get involved at some of this year’s live events that include a processional piece by Tunga at Galeria Franco Noero and Luhring Augustine (L6). At Arcadia Missa (L3) security guards will be asking for your mobile phones before you can encounter Amalia Ulman’s performance and Ken Kagami will be creating free portraits at Misako & Rosen (G19).

Catch your breath with some free outdoor art

Frieze Sculpture Park 2014: KAWS Galerie Perrotin. Photo: Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.

After you’ve had enough of traipsing up and down the aisles of the fairs, you can take the free Frieze Sculpture Park set within Regents Park’s English Garden. It’s the perfect outdoor autumnal respite, and Claire Lilley of Yorkshire Sculpture Park has once again selected an impressive line-up of new and historical works. There’ll be a major installation by Richard Serra who does monumental like no-one else and Anri Sala presents his ‘Holey Wall’ around which live performances have been programmed.

Read our guide to Frieze London and Frieze Masters.



Frieze Art Fair 2015: There’s a better chance of bagging a bargain this year

Britain’s biggest and blingiest art fair begins next week, with original unique works by younger artists starting under £1,000. These are the artists to look out for and the events to be seen at.

The cliché around Frieze Art Fair is glitz: trophy art collectors with budgets the size of a luxury yacht swoop down on the capital to attend opening parties sponsored by Gucci. It’s a voyeur’s glimpse into a gilded dream life where one might buy a photograph by Jeff Wall, which is on show with a price tag of £1m, or there’s a Wolfgang Tillmans for just over £50,000. A sculpture titled recklessdisasters(1) by Phyllida Barlow is £25,000 from Hauser & Wirth.

For five days the international art world is squashed into a giant tent in Regent’s Park. Like in the television series The Great British Bake-Off, the showstopper is an important part of Frieze. More subtle artworks can disappear in the mass of aisles and booths, which welcomes an audience of 60,000, from the most influential collectors and curators to curious tourists and art enthusiasts. For gallerists, curators and artists, the pressure is on to shine.

Lisson Gallery has imported a sculpture titled Iron Root by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. It’s a tree root from southern China cast in iron and then painted with custom colours used for the Chinese market by car manufacturers  –this sculpture is purple. The price is a secret but Ai set a record earlier this year with a series of gold- plated animal heads that went for £2.8m.

“There’s a lot of noise around Frieze so we try to do something that excites us, that excites the artists and hope that this then translates to the audience,” says Iwan Wirth, of London gallery Hauser & Wirth. “We try to do it in a way that we enjoy and that artists enjoy and it’s not just bringing stuff to a fair, or work by some hot young artist. You’ve got to be smart and make your booth work for a fair where the attention span is so small. We try to make a difference, raise the bar a bit.”

Hauser & Wirth has organised an exhibition based on the theme of a field for their booth at Frieze London this year. With sculpture by Isa Genzken (around £22,000) and Jason Rhoades (around £100,000) among others, the idea is that the booth becomes a field of carefully selected sculptures, all on pedestals, in which visitors can get lost for a while – rather like the experience of Frieze itself.

“We try to approach it with humour,” says Wirth, “because when you think about it, it’s funny that the fair happens to be in field in the middle of town and we all come to camp out in it. Quite often it’s the worst weather, and the service is lousy.”

This year as part of Frieze Projects there’s a chamber beneath the main tent, which contains a room designed by artist Jeremy Herbert, who as a set designer built stages for Madonna. It’s art as experience rather than object, and Herbert is the pioneer of a silent wind machine. Visitors will be buffeted by soundless gusts, like being hit by the Invisible Man.

Frieze Masters, now in its third year, is usually a cut above, a place where serious money changes hands, and museums scout out important artworks. This year there’s an emphasis on collecting and not just conventional artworks. Sir Norman Rosenthal has curated a section titled Collections in which fascinating oddities such as collection of 19th-century Pacific fish hooks made of shell and turtle shell are on show.

AN81970521BARLO46473 Phylli.jpg
Phyllida Barlow, Untitled: recklessdisasters (1) 2011

There will be an elegant display where Moretti Fine Art and Hauser & Wirth have joined booths to show work by recent greats along with old masters. There’s sculpture by French artist Louise Bourgeois and paintings by Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch whose radical artworks echo the human body with orifices and blood-red drips – his prices at auction have varied from £8,000 to £50,000, which is cheap for such a seminal artist. There’s an opportunity to buy an 18th-century painting by Bernardo Bellotto, which belonged to the Earl of Carlisle at Castle Howard before it was sold for just over £2.5m in auction earlier this year. Top-end sales in both old master and contemporary art grab attention but they are more rare than it might seem.

“It’s a few very hot artists who are expensive,” says Wirth, “and that has always been the case. The primary market is not expensive, and original unique works by younger artists start under £1,000. My advice is unless you can afford it be a contrarian and look in the other direction where you’ll find plenty of great artists that are reasonable.”

For smaller galleries, Frieze is their most important date of the year. Hannah Robinson, director of Mary Mary, points out that there’s no real art market in Glasgow, where her gallery is based. Frieze is a chance to introduce new artists to an international market as well as meet collectors and curators. “It’s not only about sales,” she says, “but touching base with clients or meeting new clients.” For those who can’t make the trek to Glasgow, it’s a chance to see work by less well-known talents such as painters Jonathan Gardner and Helen Johnson, as well as elegant drawings by LA-based Milano Chow. Robinson also shows Jesse Wine, a British artist who works with ceramics. His smaller sculptures of vessel-shaped objects that spew tomato vines are priced at £7,000.

For Wine, Frieze is a chance to get his work seen by a huge audience. His sculpture Let Me Entertain You is a tall thin ceramic tower of shapes based on dried citrus fruit – “with the occasional apple”, as the artist points out. It’ll be on show in the Frieze Sculpture Park, curated by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Clare Lilley, and his smaller ceramics will also be in Limoncello gallery. Wine says: “The tough side is that it is about sales. If it goes well you’re really happy because you’re getting paid and you need to get paid in order to continue your projects. If it doesn’t go well then it’s weird, it’s quite  confusing, and then you begin to wonder why the hell you’re there.”

“Artists can be ambivalent about art fairs,” says London gallerist Maureen Paley, “but if you trust your gallery you know they will make every effort to give the work more space to breath. That’s the challenge.”

This year Paley will show artists Rebecca Warren, Liam Gillick, Anne Hardy, Gillian Wearing and Wolfgang Tillmans in her booth. In a new photograph, titled Me As Ghost, Wearing has projected her portrait on to a puff of smoke.

For most commercial galleries, the best outcome is for work at Frieze to be bought by a museum or foundation .“It’s always exciting,” says Paley, “because it means that work will be taken into the public domain, which makes it available to a broader group of people. However, all collectors and their varied interests make a strong contribution.”

More modest collections might begin with a limited-edition print from Allied Editions – a print of an elegant architectural drawing by Pablo Bronstein is available for £350, or another, by painter Matt Connors, is £1,000.

The signs for Frieze 2015 point to a strong year for sales. Wirth says: “There is some concern as to the effect from China and the slowdown of the emerging economies but the contemporary market is very healthy, very robust and people are very optimistic.’

However, for most people Frieze is simply an opportunity to look at art and have a good time: “You get to see a lot of stuff very quickly,” says artist Ryan Gander, “and get a really good overview of what people are up to, not in terms of their wider practice and big projects but of what they’re interested in and what’s happening in their studio. Most artists are critical of art fairs because it seems overly commercial but it’s a good chance to meet your friends from all around the world. It’s like a school reunion.”

Frieze Art Fair, London NW1 ( 14 to 17 October 

AN29769849Frieze Art Fair R.jpg

Five artists to look out for:

Jonathan Gardner

Chicago-based Jonathan Gardner’s paintings draw from the era of bygone greats (Picasso, Matisse and Léger) to create scenes of languid and long-limbed girls with geometric breasts. (At Mary Mary)

Jesse Wine 

Jesse Wine’s ceramic sculpture follows no logic: red gilets and shorts suspended in the air above ceramic footwear; odd-shaped bulbous forms with surfaces like moss or rust; a tower of giant citrus fruit. Witty and joyful, they embody craft as much as concept.  (At Limoncello)

Carmen Herrera

She celebrated her 100th birthday this year, and Cuban abstract painter Carmen Herrera remains on top form. The Lisson Gallery booth in Frieze Masters is dedicated to her colourful geometric forms. (At Lisson)

Melvin Edwards

A pioneer among artists who engaged with race and the civil-rights movement, Melvin Edwards works with welded steel, chains and barbed wire. Abstract sculpture like cool clean minimalism from the Sixties.  (At Stephen Friedman)

Samara Scott Samara Scott’s installation for The Sunday Painter resembles a pond with a bedazzled surface beneath the water. Titled ‘Lonely Planet’, it contains a mass of materials: noodles, tights, wine, nail varnish, food colouring, insulation foam. A shimmered surface becomes a meditation on consumption and waste. (At The Sunday Painter)


Parties to be seen at:

Institute of  Contemporary Arts

The ICA hosts the first official Frieze bar during Frieze week.

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1

East End Night/ West End Night  

On Wednesday evening, East End Night means galleries stay open until 8pm. On Thursday, West End Night, repeats the same idea in the West End.

Royal Academy

On Thursday, the Royal Academy hosts the private view for Ai Weiwei’s exhibition.

Royal Academy, Burlington Gardens, London W1

Delfina Foundation 

Delfina Foundation’s  opening party happens  the Friday before Frieze.

Delfina Foundation, Catherine Place, London, SW1

Maureen Paley gallery

An opening party on Monday of Frieze week celebrates a new body of work by Liam  Gillick, the star of Joanna Hogg’s film ‘Exhibition’.

Maureen Paley, Herald Street, London E2


Art News
 Frieze Week, collateral Art Fairs, Guide
Frieze Art Week & Alternative Collateral Events Guide 2015 - ArtLyst Article image

Frieze Art Week & Alternative Collateral Events Guide 2015


Artlyst is excited to announce the release of their essential, online, Frieze and Frieze Week collateral Art Fair Guide, for London 2015. This includes important information about the main fair and the collateral events launching the week of 12 October, with the main fair opening to the public on the 14th running till the 17th October. 

Each year we curate indispensable information about the best exhibitions and events on offer during Frieze week. This year we are fortunate to be media partners with three must see events: ‘The Future Can Wait’ an exhibition established in 2007 by curators Zavier Ellis and Simon Rumley, launching the Art Bermondsey Project Space  ‘Silent Movies’ in the Cavendish Square Car Park curated by the Artists Vanya Balogh and Cedric Christie and Art Below who provide posters in various underground stations. our capital is over-run with the international art set, who flock to this once a year cultural phenomenon. Frieze and Frieze Masters promises to showcase an up to date overview of the current art market allowing art lovers to pay homage to the best (and some of the worst) in visual art.  Like Art Basel and Art Basel Miami these fairs make no bones about being massive art trade shows. The galleries involved are there to sell and this year the main Frieze fair showcases 160 of the worlds leading contemporary art galleries. What ever you do don’t miss the smaller art fairs and events that are springing up like dandelions all around the capital next week.

We will be updating this page all week, so pop back again for more listings!

The Main Frieze Art Fair

Frieze showcases 160 of the worlds leading contemporary art galleries. Participating Galleries  (PV 13 Oct.) 14-17 Oct 2015 Public openings Closed Sunday –  Regents Park Tube Station

Frieze Masters 2015 (PV 13th Oct.) 14-17 Oct. Public opening –  Camden Town Tube Station and long walk ….

Frieze Masters is described as an art fair that offers a contemporary lens on historical art.  The fair features leading galleries showcasing art made before the year 2000, ranging from the ancient era and Old Masters to the late 20th century.

Frieze Projects 2015

Frieze has announced their 2015 Projects, where they will be presenting seven new commissions for the London fair. Along with the support of the LUMA Foundation, this year’s programme is inspired by Frieze London’s temporary structure in The Regent’s Park and explores propositions for mobile architectures and alternative realities. Nicola Lees, Curator of Frieze Projects, has invited practitioners and collectives from disciplines including architecture, publishing and theatre design to transform, subvert, and interact with the social, structural and cultural dynamics of the fair. Initiated in 2003, Frieze Projects is an unique non-profit commissioning platform for emerging, under-represented and innovative practices within one of the world’s leading contemporary art fairs. The Frieze Projects participants at Frieze London 2015 are: ÅYRBRB, Lutz Bacher, castillo/corrales, Thea Djordjadze, Jeremy Herbert, Asad Raza and Rachel Rose, winner of the 2015 Frieze Artist Award.

Frieze Film 2015 (13th Oct. PV) 14-17 Public

The artists participating in Frieze Film 2015 are: Charles Atlas with Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, Xavier Cha, Gery Georgieva and Thirteen Black Cats.

Frieze Focus 2015: (13th Oct) PV 14-17 Public

Focus continues to evolve into the definitive destination for young galleries, with seven exhibiting at Frieze London for the first time, from Antenna Space (Shanghai) to Hopkinson Mossman (Auckland). Curated by Raphael Gygax (Migros Museum, Zurich) and Jacob Proctor (Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, University of Chicago), Focus provides an unparalleled insight into the world’s emerging talents and will include solo presentations by Harold Ancart (Clearing, New York); Stano Filko (Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna); Maria Pininska-Beres (Dawid Radziszewski); Samara Scott (The Sunday Painter, London) and Amie Siegel (Simon Preston Gallery, New York).

Frieze Live (13th Oct PV) 14-18 Oct Public opening

‘Live’ is dedicated to ambitious performance-based installations and will include works specially conceived for Frieze as well as the re-staging of a number of important historical pieces. Live Artists include: Arcadia Missa, London Amalia Ulman, Luhring Augustine, New York / Franco Noero, Turin Tunga , Meyer Riegger, Berlin Eva Koťátková

Misako & Rosen, Tokyo Ken Kagami, Southard Reid, London Edward Thomasson & Lucy Beech, Kate Werble Gallery, New York Rancourt / Yatsuk

Frieze Talks 14-17 2015  Oct. Public opening 

Talks include Energy as Clickbait: Douglas Coupland in conversation with Emily Segal, Wednesday 14 October, 1pm, Tania Bruguera: Aesth-ethics: Art with Consequences Wednesday 14 October, 5pm, The New Museums: Coming Soon to a City Near You, Thursday 15 October, 1pm, Anicka Yi in conversation with Darian Leader, Thursday 15 October, 5pm,  Bad. Planetary-scale. Delicious: Metahaven in conversation with Justin McGuirk Friday 16 October, 1pm, Off-Centre: Can Artists Still Afford to Live in London? Friday 16 October, 5pm,  Heart of Darkness in the City of London: Fiona Banner in conversation with Emily King Saturday 17 October, 12pm,  Viv Albertine in conversation with Gregor Muir, Saturday 17 October, 1pm, Keynote Lecture: Vivienne Westwood Saturday 17 October, 5pm

Frieze Sculpture Park next to main fair marquee is Free! 

Frieze Week Satellite Art Fair and Events Guide 2015


THE FUTURE CAN WAIT presents London’s biggest independent curated exhibition.

Established in 2007 by curators Zavier Ellis and Simon Rumley, THE FUTURE CAN WAIT returns for its 9th year as a collaboration with State Media to launch Olympus’ Art Bermondsey Project Space at 183-185 Bermondsey Street SE1 3UW. Located adjacent to White Cube Bermondsey, the exhibition will take place over three floors of the former Victorian paperworks.

13-17 October 2015 at Art Bermondsey Project Space, 183-185 Bermondsey Street SE1 3UW


SILENT MOVIES Cavendish Square Car Park

Patron, Geoff Leong once again joins forces with dynamic artist-curator duo Vanya Balogh and Cedric Christie plus a new team of international guest curators to support one of the highlights of London’s Frieze week. This non profit exhibition featuring over 100 artists in the circular 20000 Sq ft multi storey car park beneath Cavendish Square.

18-19 October runs 24 hours non-stop at Q PARK, Central London Cavendish Square , London, W1G 0PN.



Sixteen of the most dynamic female artists in London together for TAKE! EAT!, an exhibition put together by Artist/Curators Diana Chire & MC Llamas. Situated on the door step of Frieze Art Fair, St Marylebone Parish Church will act as the backdrop for TAKE! EAT! which is anticipated to be one of the most notable guerrilla exhibitions of the year.

14th – 16th October 2015 St Marylebone Parish Church 17 Marylebone Rd, London, NW1 5LT

Sunday Art Fair 

SUNDAY is anything but a Sunday art fair! It is a gallery led art fair created as a platform for an intimate group of like minded emerging commercial galleries to present work by a diverse range of artists within a relaxed environment. The fair will return to London for its sixth edition showing a selection of 20 young international galleries. SUNDAY is recognised as an integral part of the London, UK and international cultural landscape. Housed in Ambika P3, a 14,000 square foot, triple height subterranean space, SUNDAY is free and open to all and last year welcomed over 6000 visitors.

14-18 October 2015, at Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Rd, NW1 5LS, Baker St Station.

Sunday Art Fair 

The Other Art Fair

The Other Art Fair takes place at The Old Truman Brewery on 15-18 October 2015. This artist led fair is situated in the heart of London’s cultural East End, The Old Truman Brewery is a landmark arts venue and hosts a hive of creative businesses, galleries and events and provides the perfect new home for the fair during what is London’s most important and internationally renowned art week.

15-18 October 2015 at Old Truman Brewery, Hanbury Street E1 6QR



The Moniker Art Fair returns to Shoreditch from 16-18 October 2015. Moniker 2015 features designated artist project spaces combined with a commercial element. Each space is individually curated presenting a twist to the traditional art fair format. As the contemporary and urban art worlds increasingly overlap Moniker has continued to evolve, resulting in the most diverse array of artists to be showcased at Moniker to date.

16-18 October 2015 at Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane E1 6QL


MULTIPLIED is the UK’s only art fair dedicated to contemporary prints and editions. The fair is in its sixth instalment; returning once again to Christie’s, South Kensington.

16-18 October at Christie’s South Kensington 85 Old Brompton Road SW7 3LD


Set in the vibrant heart of Mayfair right in the middle of Berkeley Square, PAD is London’s leading fair for 20th Century art, design and decorative arts. From 14-18 October 2015, PAD inspires a unique spirit of collecting, PAD epitomises how modern art, photography, design, decorative and tribal arts interact to reveal astonishing combinations and create the most individual and staggering interiors. Prominent international galleries from major cities across Europe, North America and Asia come together to offer an exceptional panorama of the most coveted and iconic works available on the market today.

14-18 October 2015 at Berkeley Square, Mayfair W1


1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Dedicated to the 54 countries that make up the African continent, the fair represents the multiplicity and diversity of contemporary African Art. Now in its third year, the fair takes place from 15-18 October 2015 at Somerset House having returned from a successful New York debut earlier this year.

15-18 October 2015 at Somerset House, The Strand, WC2R 1LA



This autumn the biennial Sluice_fair returns to London with 35 artist/curator-run emerging galleries from around the world. Since its inception in 2011, Sluice’s emphasis has been on open and collaborative practice, with a strong program of education, performance and publishing.

16-18 October 2015,  Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank SE1 9PH


Art Below

This October Art Below are showcasing the work of 20 international artists across billboard spaces at Regent’s Park underground station.  This is the fifth year running which coincides with Frieze Art Fair situated right beside Regent’s Park tube. The artists’ work will also be on show at London’s Gallery Different, located in the heart of Fitzrovia, just off Tottenham Court Road.

9-19th October, Gallery Different, 14 Percy St, London W1T 1DR.


Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery

John Hoyland Power Stations (Paintings 1964-82)

A major exhibition of works by the late John Hoyland, one of Britain’s leading abstract painters, is the first show at Damien Hirst’s newly-built London gallery Newport Street Gallery. Well worth a trip to see this impressive new space.

8th October 2015 – 3rd April 2016, Newport Street Gallery, Newport Street, London SE11 6AJ


Zabludowicz Collection

Charles Richardson’s animated videos of male identity and the absurdities of human existence alongside Canadian born artist Jon Rafman’s playful series of installations that immerse visitors within his video and sculptural works.

Until 20th December 2015 at 176 Prince of Wales Road, NW1 3PT.

Frieze ICA Bar in association with K11 Art Foundation

Throughout Frieze week, the ICA partners with Frieze Art Fair and K11 Art Foundation to host London’s first official Frieze ICA Bar. Taking place over a five-day period, special guests will host an evening of music and DJs in collaboration with NTS Radio. Plus daily musical performances from Chinese artist Zhang Ding who transforms the ICA Theatre into a ‘mutating sound sculpture’ with mirrored surfaces and suspended sound panels.

12 Oct 2015 – 16 Oct 2015, ICA, The Mall, SW1Y 5AH


Serpentine Galleries

Last week of Selgascano’s pavilion (closes 18 October) plus a new video by Tabor Robak and exhibition of work by American artist, poet and political activist Jimmie Durham.

Until 8 November, Serpentine Galleries, Kensington Gardens W2 3XA

Whitechapel Gallery:  Emily Jacir: Europ

This first UK survey of artist Emily Jacir focuses on her dialogue with Europe, Italy and the Mediterranean in particular. Known for her poignant works of art that are as poetic as they are political and biographical, Jacir explores histories of migration, resistance and exchange

Until 3 January 2016, Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street E1 7QX



Frieze London 2015: The Highlights

London’s largest art fair returns to Regent’s Park

Ken Okiishi, gesture-data (feedback), 2015. Oil Paint on flat-screen televisions. Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery.

The 13th edition of the contemporary art fair returns to Regent’s Park from 14-17 October, with over 160 leading galleries exhibiting at the event. Here’s what not to miss…

The Galleries

Established names such as Cheim & Read, Galerie Kamel Mennour and Hauser & Wirth (who’ll be focusing their attentions on sculpture), will inhabit the same space as newcomers like the Sunday Painter Gallery, part of the burgeoning Vauxhall art scene. At the latter, the upcoming British artist Samara Scott exhibits her intriguing ‘water relief’ installation, Lonely Planet; she is one of seven artists exhibiting for the first time in the Frieze Focus space, so head here for the fresh talent. Elsewhere look out for the Paris-based artist Camille Henrot, another one to watch, whose installation Grosse Fatigue (2013) was awarded the Silver Lion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, and Jeff Wall’s Woman and Her Doctor (1980-81) photograph, largely for the eye-watering €1.4 million price tag.

Camille Henrot, Bad Dreams (Minor Concerns), 2015, Watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist & Kamel Mennour, Paris. 

The Performance Art

This year, Frieze has ramped up the focus on performance and participatory art in their curated section Frieze Live. Keep your eyes peeled for the processional performance Xifopagas Capilares (1984), translating as ‘Capillary Siamese Twins’, by the Brazillian artist TUNGA: two twin girls, umbilically connected by long braided hair will be walking around the fair. At the Misako & Rosen stand, the Tokyo-based artist Ken Kagami will be inviting visitors to a live portrait session (with a humorous twist).

Tunga, ‘Xifópagas Capilares’, 1984, fine art. Image courtesy of the artist and Galleria Franco Noero, Torino and Luhring Augustine, New York 

The Sculpture Park

The Sculpture Park returns to the English Gardens, this year curated by Clare Lilley of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There will be artwork by Richard Serra of Peter Freeman in New York and Carol Bove of David Zwirner in London, as well as a 11–14th century AD pre-Ekoi monolith from Western Africa, courtesy of the Didier Claes gallery in Brussels. Entry is free so you can visit the beautifully adorned gardens as many times as you wish.

The Projects

This year the seven new commissions for Frieze Projects are by AYRBRB, Lutz Bacher, castillo/corrales, Thea Djodjadz, Jeremy Herbert, Asad Rasa and Rachel Rose. On entering the fair you’ll be greeted by the work of the American conceptual artist Lutz Bacher. The enigmatic artist (he’s renowned for never making a public appearance) has transformed the entrance hall using found objects from film sets. The space underneath the fair will be occupied by Jeremy Herbert, best known for his experimental theatre sets; he has built a sensory space inspired by the Valley of the Kings and the experience of entering a tomb. Those interested in the increasing impact of technology should visit the stand of AYRBRB. The London art collective are exploring the concept of the ‘smart home’ and raising questions about privacy and control. Taking kids? They’ll love this year’s Frieze Artist Award winner, Rachel Rose. Rose has created a scale-model of the fair structure, including sonic and visual depictions of the animals that live in Regent’s Park.

The Talks

This year’s Frieze Talks programme features speakers Tania Bruguera, Prem Sahib, Adrian Searle, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Anicka Yi, among others. On Wednesday, the artist and author Douglas Coupland will talk with Emily Segal of trend-forecasting group K-HOLE about how we generate personal and interpersonal energy, alone and together, and on Saturday, the keynote lecture will be held by Vivienne Westwood. The designer will be speaking about the changing relationship between art and her practice, the influence of children’s art on her work and her commitment to environmental and social activism. For those unable to visit the fair, an archive of Frieze Talks, including speakers such as John Baldessari, Boris Groys and Yoko Ono is available online at and on iTunes.

Greater New York 2015 at MoMA PS1 – Images and Texts





“Greater New York” Is a Bellwether—And It’s Time for Critics to Eat Their Words

By Julie Baumgardner

Youth-besotted,” “a pineapple ice cream soda,” and “a flashpoint” aren’t exactly descriptors that encourage reverence. And “Greater New York,” MoMA PS1’s quinquennial survey of emerging New York-based artists (which unveils for the fourth time this Sunday) hasn’t exactly inspired a legion of critical camaraderie. Nor has it inspired much curatorial approval. Ironically, it was none other than Peter Eleey, the chief curator of this year’s show, who 10 years ago described it as a “flashpoint” in a Frieze Magazine review. Yet looking through the past exhibitions’ rosters, from 2000, 2005, and 2010, the majority of the participants were featured at a crucial moment in their careers, a moment when they either blasted off or faded into obscurity. And most blasted off.

Featured in the inaugural 2000 “Greater New York,” Do Ho Suh exhibited with Lehmann Maupin in September of that year, and has remained with the gallery ever since—not to mention being labelled the “Art Innovator of the Year” in 2013 by the Wall Street Journal. That same year, Shirin Neshat peeled back the New York art world’s provincial bias against Middle Eastern art (in her case, photography), as did Ghada Amer, whose sexually charged paintings would find their way into Gagosian’s hands.

Five years later, the cards were stacked similarly with Carol Bove. That year’s show also included then-rising artists Wangechi Mutu, Paul Chan, and Dana Schutz, who in 10 years time have won legions of awards and major institutional surveys.

The last go-round was anything but amiss, too. Hank Willis Thomas? You’ve heard of him. And Ryan McNamara, Rashaad Newsome, Darren Bader, and LaToya Ruby Frazier—who also just won a MacArthur Genius Grant. Yet the prevailing critical view is resoundingly scathing. As Village Voice critic Christian Viveros-Faune once spouted, “I am reminded of the words of Samuel Johnson: ‘There is nothing uglier than that on the verge of beauty.’” But beauty—and, really, self-actualization—isn’t necessarily the point of these sorts of surveys, even if this one’s title locates it in aesthetic greatness.

How can a show that helped to launch so many careers be so divisive? So much so, it seems, that the forthcoming edition has changed its focus by “bringing together emerging and more established artists,” as the official statement goes. It continues on to explain that “the city itself is being reshaped by a voracious real estate market that poses particular challenges to local artists,” calling for us to “[examine] points of connection and tension between our desire for the new and nostalgia for that which it displaces.”

In 2015, newcomers like M. Lamar and C. Spencer Yeh will be placed in context with Kiki Smith and Gordon Matta-Clark. Skeptics will doubtlessly cry cowardliness. But what do the artists of past editions and those who’ve snapped them up since their debuts at “Greater New York” think? “Critics are allowed to say what they wish, and they always will. It does not—and could never—be the definitive opinion on whether or not the original curatorial intentions are successful,” says Kat Parker, director of Petzel Gallery, which represents Schutz, as well as other GNY alums Yael Bartana and Adam McEwen (who is also reprised for this year).

There’s often a schism between critical and market reception. But “‘Greater New York’ functions, as Roberta Smith put it, as a big-ring circus,” quips Fabienne Stephan, a curator at Salon 94, which shows Jimmy DeSana—another featured in this year’s show. “I get to watch and concentrate on an act and delve in if I want to. I do look to spot talent in the show.” The gallery brought on David Benjamin Sherry after his trippy photographic self-portrait and landscape series exhibited in the 2010 edition. “That’s where I first was impressed by Huma Bhabha,” says Stephan. “The piece she had in the show, Untitled (2005), was then reinstalled in her solo exhibition at PS1 three years ago and she is participating in ‘Greater New York’ again this year, 10 years later.”

The expanded criteria for 2015’s installment—mid-career, established, and previously exhibited artists—may seem to belie the pathos of the exhibition. After all, it is, as Parker says, “always viewed as a platform for younger, largely unknown artists.” However, as Thomas says, “survey shows have their place. They revitalize energy within the art world and they take a pulse of the time.” And in the New York area, with some 140,000 practicing artists living within its five boroughs, whose median age is 38, suffice to say that many artists here aren’t exactly spring chickens.

Perhaps the “pulse of the time” is no longer so youth-focused. And “emerging,” as institutional or collecting nomenclature, may be somewhat irrelevant. As Parker puts it: “In today’s day and age, digital media has made it virtually impossible to be unknown.” Likewise, New York harbors immense talent, often much of it overlooked and under-exhibited. Digging deeper—not broader—into its landscape may actually enable “Greater New York” to shed some of its flash-in-the-pan reputation.

Bruce High Quality Foundation (BHQF)—a playful, punky collective that heavily integrates education into their artmaking—exhibited at PS1 in 2010 with a moveable participatory installation that “allowed students from the greater New York area to swap used pedestals for new ones,” as the group describes. “We wanted to see if we could redirect a small production budget into a more intimate relationship with other young artists.” Perhaps that’s the conversation the New York art world needs right now. Not reiterating the perpetual gripes of the rising rents or unbalanced demographics, but creating continuity and connections in a multi-generational artistic community. BHQF were excited to hear that, this year, their former professor Robert Bordo is including paintings in “Greater New York.” “He’s a painter a lot of painters know and look at deeply, but his work doesn’t have the broad audience that it deserves,” they say. “So if ‘Greater New York’ gives this work a wider platform, it’s good for everyone.”

While PS1 and MoMA have lately been reviled for their corporate pockets and distracting celebrity-chasing curatorial strategy, the artists seem not to care. “I was more excited about the relationship of my work to viewers and audiences than I was thinking about my career, which probably wasn’t the smartest move on my part,” laughs Thomas. For all the drama “Greater New York” has engendered, it’s guaranteed to garner a large audience for its current roster, which looks promising.

“The New York art scene is so large and fractured, I don’t think one museum exhibition could ever accurately represent it entirely,” Parker says, “but from the list of artists included it seems that it is reflective of work made in New York over a specific time period and which may reveal itself to be more contemporary than we anticipate.” To quote Samuel Johnson, “The future is purchased by the present.”

Julie Baumgardner


Art World

Ben Davis on Why ‘Greater New York’ Matters for the International Art World

Ben Davis, Friday, October 9, 2015

Robert Kushner, <em>Samba Class</em> (1982) <br>Courtesy the artist. Photo by Pablo Enriquez

Greater New York” is upon us. While the massive, 157-artist show opens on October 11, the press begin their crawl Friday. It will be met, as all such surveys are now, with a flood of intensive Instragramming and insta-punditry. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind about what it all might mean—because the big show is different this year, and that difference says something about how New York is changing.

Specifically, it inaugurates a new concept: “Greater New York 2015″ is a post-“emerging art” survey.

Jimmy DeSana, <em>Contact Paper</em>(1980).<br> Courtesy Salon 94

The show began in 2000 as a way to consummate the odd-couple merger of PS1 and MoMA, welding the latter’s institutional clout with the former’s alternative vibe, limiting the range to artists to those who had their first solo shows in the last few years.

By the time its return edition opened in 2005 to coincide with the art fairs, the ever-expanding art market had already made this “emerging artist” focus feel like a visual-arts version of corporate indie rock.

“[T]his reincarnated enterprise had no way of separating itself from the market’s engorged desire for some institutional guidance among the sea of young artists now plying their wares in New York,” curator Peter Eleey wrote in Frieze of the 2005 affair. He added that “you half-expect dealers’ mobile phone numbers to show up on wall labels.”

A few years later, Eleey would join the MoMA PS1 team, and was promoted to Associate Director in 2013. He has overseen a big part of the curatorial work on this year’s show, so that decade-old review of “GNY 2005″ now reads as a negative manifesto.

“Greater New York 2015″ still presents plenty of “artists to watch.” In terms of the gallery representation of the artists involved, it seems to be pretty Lower East Side-y. The most influential art gallery here turns out to be the indie-ish 47 Canal, which shows Gregory Edwards (b. 1981), John Finneran (b. 1979), Ajay Kurian (b. 1984), and Stewart Uoo (b. 1985).

But the key number to remember is 48. That’s the average age of the participants overall. Those that are living, that is. The show contains a fair number of figures—from pioneering collage filmmaker Marie Menken (1909-1970) to the late, great Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978)—who are historical. (For “Greater New York” back in 2010, the average age would have been 34, by my calculations.)

Henry Flynt, <em>The SAMO© Graffiti</em> (1979).<br> Image: Collection Emily Harvey Foundation

In terms of demographics, there are more artists who are either Gen Xers (1965-1984) or Baby Boomers (1946-1964) than Millennials. Heck, there’s a significant Greatest Generation contingent.

Alvin Baltrop, <em>The Piers (With couple engaged in sex act)</em>(1975-86).<br>Courtesy Third Streaming

The “Greater New York” press release makes it clear that the changes in the focus of the show are the result of double pressures: the need to figure out what such a survey does in the age of constant art fairs, with their constant volleys of new product (reflecting Eleey’s long-ago criticism of “GNY 2005”); and the need to be faithful to the wave of nostalgia for New York’s wilder days triggered by “a voracious real estate market that poses particular challenges to local artists.” (It could be clearer that the real-estate boom and the art-boom are two halves of the same whole, so that what lifts art up with one hand pushes it down with the other.)

When Eleey wrote his review of the 2005 show, the gang on Sex and the City had just discovered Brooklyn existed. Now, Brooklyn is the least affordable housing market in the country. And so, the question that seems to hang over the show is how much space for the new there is left in New York.

This year’s “Greater New York” feels like its curators have added a question mark to the end of the title. I’m eager to see how it feels overall, but this in itself already says something about this prickly and soul-searching moment.


‘Thinking from the Present Allowed Us to Get to the Past’: Peter Eleey Talks the New Embrace of Old Work in ‘Greater New York’


“How does an artist live in New York City in 2015?” asked MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach, clad in a velour jacket in the foyer of that museum, addressing a few dozen art reporters. Perhaps this was a rhetorical question (no one volunteered a response) but it also serves as a way of approaching the institution’s newest show, unveiled Friday morning: “Greater New York,” a series that pops up at PS1 every five years and has in its last three iterations acted as a CliffNotes guide to what young artists who live in the five boroughs are up to these days.

Except, this time around, the old guard has come along for the ride, too: the list of 150 artists included in the gigantic, ambitious show, which opens to the public on Sunday, has a fair number of established names, some of whom have achieved levels of success that surely would have barred them from “Greater New York” shows in the past.(How does an artist live in New York in 2015? Glenn Ligon lives in a TriBeCa apartment “around the corner from movie stars,” as his text-based work in the show, Housing in New York: A Brief History, 1960-2007, explains.)Lutz Bacher, Magic Mountain, 2015.COURTESY THE ARTIST AND GREENE NAFTALI, NEW YORK/COURTESY MOMA PS1

But even if show-goers are greeted by the work of 72-year-old David Hammons outside, and a piece by the 62-year-old James Nares upon entering, there are plenty of standout offerings from young artists, including the glowing metropolis of e-cigarettes constructed by Ajay Kurian (age 30), the randy figurative sculpture of Elizabeth Jaeger (age 27), and the playful market prankings of Cameron Rowland (age 27).

After the press conference, we caught up quickly with Peter Eleey, the PS1 associate director who led the curatorial team, to speak about the new tack for “Greater New York.”ARTnews: How do you think the inclusion of older artists and older works of art has made “Greater New York” more effective, in terms of its original aims?Peter Eleey: The show was conceived of as a show that would survey a broad base of creative practice in New York City, an emergent portrait of New York and the creative community over the last five years. Particularly in the last five years, it’s felt like older artists—or, let’s say, history in general—has entered the present in a way that, to us, felt hard to exclude. Younger artists kept talking to us about it, we kept seeing it in the way they wanted to contextualize their works. In a way, it was thinking from the present that allowed us to get to the past.I know that you’ve discussed how you would have done past ‘Greater New York’ exhibitions differently. I believe you had some complaints regarding the 2005 edition in particular. And then, when I was walking upstairs, I saw a work titled Lesser New York [by Fia Backstrom].Ha, yes that’s right.It was purposefully rejected from that “Greater New York” in 2005…Yes it was!And now, here it is, in the institution instead of fighting it. Is that commentary on how this “Greater New York” is different from past iterations? It just struck me as funny, that you would go and put it in after its original exclusion.When you go through the show, there are certain moments that touch on histories of both inclusion and exclusion in the institution’s past. There’s a number of artists who appeared in the “Rooms” exhibition that Alanna Heiss organized to inaugurate this institution. With [Lesser New York], we wanted to engage the recent past, not just a deeper history, and that was a way to do that.The show coincides with the announcement that admission to PS1 is going to be free for all New Yorkers, which is quite amazing.It really is.Is there some aspect of this show that is trying to speak to the kinds of New Yorkers who wouldn’t usually come to MoMA PS1 if there were a high price to get in? With the free admission, do you see any sort of populist mission here? We always want a broader audience than we have. Every place I’ve worked has strived to achieve that. I think for us, part of the decision around trying to make admission free for people across the five boroughs was another way that we can expand that sort of access. We’re privileged to be an outer-borough institution because we get a different kind of audience. That includes the tourism audience, for sure, and while we’re very glad about that, it also very much includes people from the artist communities in North Brooklyn and even Long Island City.Do you think these new kinds of visitors will be affected by this show in particular?Yes, to the extent that we have occasions to reflect on a version of the city that’s bigger than the art world, it’s always nice for us to take that. When I organized that show about 9/11 four years ago, I was doing something similar, and expanding the kinds of stories that might reach different sorts of audiences.

Copyright 2015, ARTnews Ltd, 40 W 25th Street, 6th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10010. All rights reserved.


Photo Essays

MoMA PS1’s Citywide Survey Shows New York’s Greats (and Not-so-Greats)

David Hammons's "African American Flag" (1990) flies in the courtyard of MOMA PS1. (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

Every five years the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 team up to take the pulse of New York City’s contemporary art scene, filling the latter institution with works made recently by artists based in the metropolitan area. The fourth edition of this quinquennial exhibition, Greater New York — which opens to the public on Sunday — diverts palpably from the formula, mixing works by younger artists with pieces by older and deceased artists. Eighties babies are well-represented — including Kevin Beasley, Liene Bosquê, Sara Cwynar, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Ajay Kurian, Eric Mack, and Stewart Uoo — as are the dearly departed: an entire room is devoted to Alvin Baltrop’s photographs of the Hudson River piers in the 1980s; a half-dozen of Scott Burton‘s rarely-seen sculptural furniture objects are on view; and visionary architect Lebbeus Woods‘s designs and drawings command a corner room on the third floor. The exhibition’s film program includes News from Home (1976) by the just-deceased auteur Chantal Akerman.

Eric Mack, "Pain After Heat" (2014)

Co-curators Peter Eleey, Douglas Crimp, Thomas J. Lax, and Mia Locks settled on 158 artists and collectives, their selections spanning every imaginable medium and style, but some popular tropes and tactics bubble to the surface. Documentary projects are prevalent, and provide a welcome antidote to a less welcome but equally ubiquitous contingent — paintings that are trying very hard to look like no thought or work was put into making them. In addition to Baltrop’s incredible images of the piers collapsing into the Hudson, Greater New York includes 57 photos from Henry Flynt‘s 1979 series documenting Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “SAMO©” tags around Lower Manhattan, and Deana Lawson‘s appropriated photo series “Mohawk Correctional Facility: Jasmine & Family” (2013), which tracks the growth of a young family through the snapshots taken by prison workers whenever the incarcerated patriarch’s wife and kids visited him.

Thought not rooted in photography, Glenn Ligon‘s “Housing in New York: A Brief History, 1960–2007” (2007), a set of silkscreens chronicling the artist’s real estate pitfalls, takes up many of the same issues of gentrification, discrimination, and inequality. In the adjacent gallery, a group of fantastic images spanning 1976 to 2008, by street photographer Rosalind Fox Solomon, make a perfect companion piece to Ligon’s history project.

Installation view of works by Nancy Shaver

Another popular formal trope is the collection: pieces that consist of large numbers of similar objects, assortments of disparate and seemingly unrelated things, or actual spring and fall fashion collections. Greater New York features installations showcasing clothes and accessories designed by the collectives Eckhaus Latta, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, and renaissance woman Susan Cianciolo. In one gallery, Nancy Shaver‘s colorful collections of found objects and baubles are installed alongside Sara Cwynar‘s photographic assemblages of matching found images — snapshots of the Acropolis, reproductions of Piet Mondrian paintings, etc. Liene Bosquê‘s tabletop sculptural installation, “Recollection” (2000–15), is an urban grid made up of hundreds of souvenir architectural miniatures, a kind of kitsch update of Rem Koolhaas’s “The City of the Captive Globe” (1972). The most literal manifestation of the collection trend, however, comes from KIOSK, a collective founded by husband-and-wife duo Marco Romeny and Alisa Grifo. Their installation, titled simply “KIOSK” (2005–15), features objects of all sorts that were gathered by the duo and several dozen contributors from all over the globe installed in translucent shelves that have turned an entire gallery into a delightful maze full of odd trinkets tucked into nooks and corners. Like the exhibition in miniature, it includes both delightful tchotchkes and uninteresting trinkets.

These recurring motifs, along with some very strong video works by Loretta Fahrenholz, Charles Atlas, and others, plus a vast gallery devoted entirely to large figurative sculptures, provide some of Greater New York‘s strongest moments. To be sure, there are plenty of duds here, too — like Gregory Edwards, Robert Bordo, John Finneran, Collier Schorr, and Yoshiaki Mochizuki, to name some names. But there’s also more than enough work, both new and old, to refute the claims of any jaded artists that New York’s days as a great art city are over.

Three untitled paintings by Gregory Edwards in the lobby of MoMA PS1

An installation and objects by Slow and Steady Wins the Race (left) and a painting by Seth Price (right)

Detail of fierce pussy's installation "For the Record" (2010/15)

Sondra Perry, "Lineage for a Multiple-Monitor Workstation: Number One" (2015)

Lutz Bacher, "Magic Mountain" (2015)

Clothing and accessory designs by Susan Cianciolo

Robert Kushner's "Samba Class" (1982, left) and "Torrid Dreams" (1983)

Works from Collier Schorr's "Jordan Installation"

Park McArthur, "Posey Restraint" (2014) blocks a doorway on MoMA PS1's second floor.

Henry Flynt's 1979 photo series documenting Jean-Michel Basquiat's "SAMO©" tags around New York City

The art collective KIOSK's archive installation (2005–15) takes up an entire gallery on MoMA PS1's second floor.

A large gallery devoted entirely to large figurative sculptures, including Elizabeth Jaeger's "Maybe We Die So the Love Doesn't Have to" (2015, right)

Raul de Nieves, "Day(Ves) of Wonder" (2007–14)

Ignacio Gonzalez-Lang, "Queens" (2009)

Charles Atlas, "Here She Is from the Waning of Justice" (2015)

Choreographer Jen Rosenblit and her dancers rehearsing her performance piece "Clap Hands" beneath a large formica piece by Louise Lawler.

Fashion designs by Eckhaus Latta

Collage installation by Mary Beth Edelson

Detail of Mary Beth Edelson's installation, with collage images of Louise Bourgeois, Yoko Ono, Ana Mendieta, and other women artists

Mira Dancy wall painting "Broadway & Canal // Mystique Boutique" (2015, left) and painting "Body Clock" (2015, right)

Liene Bosquê, "Recollection" (2000–15)

Sculptures by Amy Brener and photos by Nick Relph

Lionel Maunz's "Parasite" (2015) in MoMA PS1's boiler room

A print by Seth Price in a stairwell at MoMA PS1

Greater New York runs October 11, 2015–March 7, 2016 at MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens).

Mike Kelley’s New York Superman


New York – Mike Kelley at Hauser and Wirth Through October 24th, 2015

September 19th, 2015

Mike Kelley, Kandor 10B (2011), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 10B (2011), via Art Observed

Mike Kelley’s Kandor series ranks among the artist’s more enigmatic projects: a series of sculptures, videos and installation work that works the origin mythologies of the Superman comics into the fabric of the artist’s own life and work.  The works are equally desolate and comical, peculiar and commanding in their execution, often rendered in glowing hues of purple, red and yellow, or countered by immense chunks of sculpted detritus, recreating the titular hero’s Fortress of Solitude.

Mike Kelley, City 5 (2007-09), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, City 5 (2007-09), via Art Observed

These works make up the first show of the fall season at Hauser and Wirth’s Chelsea flagship, a powerful summary of one of Kelley’s last projects that offers a distinct perspective on his intertwined interests in pop mythologies, psychoanalytic tropes, and their intersection with the artist’s own life.  “It represents a flip of autobiography into a sort of mythology” Paul Schimmel noted at the press preview, an event that also marked the gallery’s first exhibition of the artist’s work.

Mike Kelley, Kandor 4 (detail) (2007), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 4 (detail) (2007), via Art Observed

Kandor, Superman’s home city and the capital of the planet Krypton, exists in the comic’s universe as a miniature, stolen back from the hero’s nemesis and preserved in a jar in his arctic hideout, a memento that stands as both a testament to his own identity apart from the human race, and his failures to save his planet from destruction when he was a child.  Recreated here, Kelley’s Kandors are a recurring formal container, explored as a rocky landscape, geometric cluster, or any number of variations that mirror the changes in artistic direction in the past century of the comic’s history.  Surrounding these works with sculpture, video and lenticular, wall-mounted works, Kelley’s fascination with the shrunken city seems to hint at a distinct interest in the parallels of heroism and dysfunction that seems to sit at the core of so much of his work.

Mike Kelley, Kandor 4 (detail) (2007), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 4 (detail) (2007), via Art Observed

At the center of the exhibition, however, is the massive Fortress of Solitude, turned from its frequent depiction as a glittering palace to resemble a bombed out cluster of stone and piping.  Viewers can climb inside its craggy facade to view one of the Kandor sculptures inside, giving its soft purple glow all the more affect given its stark surroundings.

Mike Kelley, Kandor 10B (detail) (2011), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 10B (detail) (2011), via Art Observed

Taken as a whole, the work presents a look deep into Kelley’s perception of his own work, where the core ideal seems locked away, preserved as an inspirational force in the face of the herculean efforts of his vocation.  Taken in the wake of the artist’s suicide in 2012, the exhibition is a harrowing investigation of Kelley’s interests in the psychological undertones of cultural touchstones, and the tragedy of his final years.

The exhibition is on view through October 24th.

Mike Kelley, Kandor 2B (2011), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 2B (2011), via Art Observed

Mike Kelley, Lenticular, via Art Observed
A Mike Kelley Lenticular, via Art Observed

– See more at:



Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Mike Kelley’s Final, Superman-Inspired Works Land In Chelsea

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude), 2011.© Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts / Licensed by VAGA New York

One unexpected thing I witnessed during the opening of the New York art world’s fall season this week was Paul Schimmel—whom the Los Angeles Times once described as having “a more impressive record of exhibitions and acquisitions in the field of art” than any other American curator since 1950—taking some time to art historicize Brainiac, nemesis of Superman. This happened at a preview of an exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, the gallery where Schimmel is a partner. The show focused on work from Mike Kelley’s “Kandor” series, which the artist labored over fairly obsessively from 1999 up until taking his own life in 2012.

Kandor is the capital city of Krypton, Superman’s home planet. Krypton was destroyed by its own unstable core. Superman survived when his doomed parents sent him to Earth. Kandor itself survived the planet’s destruction because Brainiac shrunk the city to a size that would fit inside a glass bottle and stole it, which probably isn’t worth getting into any further here. Superman recovered the shrunken city, and placed it under a bell jar with its own atmosphere inside his secret sanctuary, the Fortress of Solitude, where, in the words of a 2010 artist statement by Kelley, “it functions as a constant reminder of [Superman’s] past and as a metaphor for his alienated relationship to the planet he now occupies.” That this description could serve as a broad thesis statement of Kelley’s mercurial career—and, in a sense, to the creative mind in general—is not lost on me.Hauser & Wirth’s current Chelsea location, on West 18th Street (they’re moving to West 22nd Street in 2018), is a big and cold building, and it resembles a hangar. In fact, to call it a Fortress of Solitude would not be a wholly inaccurate description, though that is also a touch too cute. Schimmel was standing in a darkened room inside this building in front of a large group that included a representative sample of many of the employed (and a lot of the unemployed) art writers currently based in New York. Everyone stood among a cluster of Kelley’s resin sculptures of Kandor in various forms (the design of the city, as Kelley points out in his artist statement, was never standardized, even in the comics). The sculptures are all of cities, but they resemble different clusters of sterilized sex toys—most of them phallic, some of them vaginal, they are materially uniform, and there are no details in the forms, just clusters of shapes. They were resting on pedestals, each eerily glowing on illuminated bases that vaguely lit up the room. Schimmel was talking.“Brainiac,” he said, “who I never thought I’d ever talk about in an art-historical framework, was trying to steal cities all throughout the universe. Remarkable. In a way, Brainiac was a stealer of cultures. And in some respects Superman himself had to partake in that moral dilemma of sort of taking and holding.” He stretched this to the matter at hand: “And Mike was like that with the history of art. He felt maybe like Picasso in that he could just sort of take it all in—whether it’s references to Flavin, or Clyfford Still, or Roy Lichtenstein, or to the original source material. Mike, at this extraordinary period in his life, had all these resources together.”Other art-historical reference points Schimmel raised when talking about this work were Mondrian, Constructivism, Surrealism, Joseph Cornell, and Matisse. He was a real trooper, though, about the nature of the work, always bringing his talk, in an endearingly clunky way, back to the comics. Gesturing to a green “Kandor” sculpture with stalagmite-like towers, Schimmel said, “You don’t really think about the kinds of meaning these lights and colors represent. This,” he motioned to the sculpture, “which is so beautiful, kind of like the Emerald City, is also the color of the very mineral, of the very source of Superman’s weakness! Kryptonite, which glows green, is in a sense the most beautiful, and also the most deadly.” And here again, driving the point home: “I think that says a lot about Mike and his relationship to signs and symbols. And his own moral dilemmas.”Since Kelley’s death, the “Kandor” series has been exhibited more frequently than the artist’s other, more iconic work, like Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites (1991)—little clouds of sewn-together stuffed animals that emit the smell of disinfectant—and the remarkable video-heavy series, “Day Is Done,” which includes nightmarish recreations of images from high-school yearbooks. It is “Kandor” that has been revisited as a kind of period at the end of Kelley’s sentence. “Kandor” comprised Kelley’s final gallery show in his lifetime, at Gagosian in London, which garnered a review from the Guardian with the headline “It Came From Planet Bunkum.” Months after his death, a retrospective of the “Kandor” works—many of them now on view at Hauser & Wirth—opened at the Watermill Center in the Hamptons. “Kandor” was given significant real estate in Kelley’s traveling career retrospective, with a stop in New York at MoMA PS1 last year, where the “Kandor” works were installed at the beginning of the exhibition, acting as an introduction. Hauser & Wirth’s size allows for a fairly elaborate installation—including Kelley’s re-creation of the Fortress of Solitude, rendered cave-like rather than blanketed in crystal ice, as it often is portrayed in the comics. Visitors to the gallery can walk into the cave and people of average height can stand up in it comfortably, though one has to wear little white booties to do so, which dampers the installation’s intensity a bit.The room with the cave also includes Kelley’s video Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais). In the video, a gang of baroque thugs—one of them is dressed something like the Riddler, from the Batman comics, another is a more colorful Alice Cooper, wearing a codpiece—kidnap a bride on her wedding day, take her to the Fortress of Solitude and chain her to a wall in order to sexually humiliate her. It’s difficult to watch, but maybe harder to look away from, like a car wreck.It was funny listening to Schimmel perform his awkward verbal gymnastics, attempting to weave a three-cornered argument that included the whacky DC comic-book universe, Kelley’s artistic practice, and elements of the artist’s autobiography, but looking at the “Kandor” works makes me incredibly sad. This may have something to do with their proximity to Kelley’s suicide, or it might be because I don’t believe the work stacks up to the rest of Kelley’s career. Curators and dealers seem to be pushing for Kandor as a major part of Kelley’s legacy—or maybe the work is just easier to get on loan—but either way I find so much of it to be mediocre. “Kandor” seems to me to be the product of a man endlessly tinkering with an idea but never really getting it to arrive anywhere beyond Kelley’s general metaphor of alienation that I quoted above.In other works, Kelley mined his memory for the depths of this alienation. In Educational Complex (1995), for instance, he created what appears to be a fairly dull maquette of an office building, but the structure is, in fact, a scale model of all the schools Kelley ever attended as well as his childhood home, reconstructed from memory, with various gaps. What begins as a little underwhelming architectural mock-up is actually an exhausting psychological exercise—an artistic return of the repressed. He took this idea even further in his final piece, which he worked on at the same time as “Kandor,” Mobile Homestead (2012)—a replica of the house he grew up in, located on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, not far from the location of the real home, in Westland, Michigan. The house itself serves as a community center. Beneath it is an underground bunker that can only be reached through a complicated network of tunnels and which Kelley, before his death, intended to use as a private studio, literalizing the idea of mining the depths of one’s memory for the sake of art. I would have liked to see the work he would have made there.“Kandor,” on the other hand, is mildly pleasing on an aesthetic level, but cautiously avoids any actual meaning. Kelley at his best offers a glimpse into the mind of someone who never felt like he belonged anywhere, of an artist who is acutely aware of how hard it is to have to wake up everyday and simply exist in the world. I look at “Kandor” and can only think of Kelley working away, trying to distract himself from this very fact, preferring instead to just be left alone forever.

Copyright 2015, ARTnews Ltd, 40 W 25th Street, 6th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10010. All rights reserved.



Enter a Dark Comic Book in the Final Works of Art World Superhero Mike Kelley

img 2997 e1441912267982 Enter a Dark Comic Book in the Final Works of Art World Superhero Mike Kelley

Superman never felt fully at home on Earth. A refugee from the planet Krypton, sent away from his dying planet as an infant, his alien physiology gave him superpowers on Earth but prevented him from relating to its inhabitants.

So, when Superman discovered that the Kryptonian capital, Kandor, was in fact not lost but had been shrunken and bottled by a villainous foe named Brainiac, he rescued the city and its people and stashed it away in his Fortress of Solitude, where it remained a safe but haunting reminder of his past.

City 7, (2007-2009). (Photo: Alanna Martinez)

In the last series works by the late, great Los Angeles contemporary artist Mike Kelley, Kandor is explored extensively, from its varied depictions in the Superman comics to the ways its narrative overlaps and contrasts with Kelley’s own autobiography—which is also filled with bouts of deep loneliness and isolation.

The first appearance of Kandor in Action Comics #242, (1958). (Photo: Via iFanboy)

“Mike Kelley: Kandors” at Hauser & Wirth’s Chelsea gallery space contains just over 20 artworks, including sculptures, illuminated lenticular paintings—in these, images appear and disappear as the viewer moves around the artwork—large-scale installations, and video, some of which were included in his posthumous retrospective at MoMA PS1 in 2013-2014.

In the first room are Kelley’s glowing, jewel-like sculptural variations of Kandor. The works were all created using molds and, while they are editioned works, each version is slightly different depending on the material used to create the surface texture.

Inside the Exploded Fortress of Solitude. (Photo: Hauser & Wirth)

Kandor’s first appearance in the Superman narrative came in the 1958 issue of Action Comics #242, drawn by Al Plastino. It appeared in the comics many times, but was always rendered differently by the various artists who contributed to the series. Kelley’s inspiration for the Kandor sculptures and lenticular paintings were the inconsistencies of the source material, ever-changing representations of the futuristic alien metropolis.

Exploded Fortress of Solitude. (Photo: Hauser & Wirth)

City 17, (2011). (Photo: Hauser & Wirth)

But Kelley was equally interested in the flip side: themes of sex, debauchery, and social disorder appear in the last gallery of the show, with the climactic large-scale installation Exploded Fortress of Solitude, a set based on Superman’s arctic safe space. In the video, a striking departure from the rest of the show, a band of miscreants sexually abuse and beat one another inside a blackened Fortress of Solitude, where a bottled Kandor glows fiery magenta in the background.

Kelley had even bigger plans for Kandors. Originally, he had planned a project in 1999 called Kandor-Con 2000 for the group exhibition “Zeitmenden: Ausblick” at the Kunstmuseum Bonn. His vision was to create crowd-sourced versions of the city based on fans’ input via the internet, to build digital and physical versions to show at the museum, and even hold a convention for the fans at the opening.

Kelley committed suicide in 2012.

“Mike Kelley” is open through October 24 and Hauser & Wirth New York, 511 West 18th Street.






Review: Mike Kelley Uncorks Superman’s Kandor City in a Bottle

The artist Mike Kelley produced more than 100 sculptural variations on the motif of Kandor, the capital of Superman’s home planet, Krypton. Thirty of them are on display in a new exhibit at Hauser & Wirth. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times


During his last decade, Mike Kelley (1954-2012), one of the most influential artists of his generation, devoted an extraordinary amount of time and effort to a theme from Superman comics: the city of Kandor, capital of Superman’s home planet, Krypton. Before Krypton was destroyed by a chain reaction in its radioactive core, the space archvillain Brainiac shrank Kandor and put it and its live inhabitants into a bottle. Years later, the grown-up Superman wrested the bottled city away from Brainiac. Unable to restore Kandor to its original size, he kept it in his Arctic Fortress of Solitude, along with all his other memorabilia.

Mr. Kelley produced more than 100 sculptural variations on the motif of Kandor. They typically consisted of renderings of a futuristic city in colored resin covered by bell jars, which were connected by hoses to gas tanks or air compressors. (Because Earth’s atmosphere was toxic for the people in the bottle, a constant supply of Kryptonian air was required.) Illuminated by internal and ambient lights and presented on various platforms and pedestals, the Kandor works are materially sumptuous and metaphorically tantalizing.


The 2011 installation “Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude),” which has never been shown in the United States, is paired with a video, “Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais).” Credit All Rights Reserved, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts/Licensed by VAGA, New York NY, Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Why was Mr. Kelley so preoccupied by this story? A captivating exhibition of 30 Kandor works from 2007 to 2011 at Hauser & Wirth offers some answers and a few clues for speculative interpretation. Called, simply, “Mike Kelley,” the exhibition delivers a mordantly misanthropic vision of contemporary life with terrific theatrical élan.

The show begins with an installation in a dark room of eight Kandors cast in jellylike hues made to glow by lights built into their pedestals. Next comes a multipart piece called “Kandor 4,” which consists of a large, clear glass bottle connected to a big, red air compressor; three city models cast in red, yellow and blue urethane; and a video projected onto the wall showing a bottle with swirling colored gases inside. Nearby is a set of Kandor images lifted from comic books and made into back-lighted, lenticular panels in which the city appears and disappears depending on your viewing angle.

Then you come to the most impressive and revealing part of the show, an expansive 2011 installation titled “Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude),” which has never been shown in the United States. It’s paired with a video, “Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais),” depicting the darkly comical, sadomasochistic activities of some fancifully costumed people within and around the “Exploded Fortress.” (“Vice Anglais” refers to erotic flagellation.)

Some background is helpful. In the late 1990s, Mr. Kelley wanted to produce an event to be called “Kandor-Con” as part of a group exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Bonn in Germany in 1999-2000. He intended to create a website by which to connect with Superman fans from around the world, and he planned to have as many as possible come to the museum for a conference like Comic-Con. In a 2010 essay, he wrote, “I wanted to draw a comparison between the bell jar and the Net, presenting the Net surfer as a lonely, disembodied individual.” For financial reasons, that project never came to fruition, but had it succeeded, he wrote, “ ‘Kandor-Con 2000’ would then truly have functioned as a real celebration and meeting place for like-minded people.” Whatever else they’re about, the Kandor works have centrally to do with loneliness and isolation.


In his essay, Mr. Kelley claimed that he had no personal interest in the Superman mythos, which seems contradictory. It’s hard to believe that he didn’t in some ways identify with that Man of Steel. Because of his superhuman powers, Superman leads a split and lonely life. Among regular people, he disguises himself as an ordinary, ineffectual fellow. He has friends but none who know him deeply. As his true, superself, he’s even more isolated. When not preventing catastrophes, he keeps to himself in his Arctic retreat. As for Mr. Kelley, while he was an artist of nearly superhuman productivity and inventiveness, he was severely depressed, a virulently isolating condition that led him to take his own life. (In a video from 1999 not in this show, Mr. Kelley had an actor playing Superman reading passages from Sylvia Plath’s novel, “The Bell Jar.” Considering that Ms. Plath also committed suicide, that’s chillingly prophetic in retrospect.)

Mr. Kelley’s “Exploded Fortress of Solitude” is unlike Superman’s icy palace. All black inside and out, the “Fortress of Solitude” is a life-size bunker built of plastic foam carved and molded to resemble a construction of concrete blocks, stones and solidified lava. Some parts are cut away and scattered about the gallery, but the primary structure remains intact, and viewers can enter its dark, cavernous interior. Here you find one of the show’s most fully realized Kandor sculptures: a glowing, pink city of simplified modernist buildings on a powder-blue base, all under a bell jar over three feet tall. At the end of the cavern, a rough niche whose surface is covered by glittering pieces of costume jewelry alludes to treasures often discovered in mythic caves and in psychoanalytic spelunking.

A video projected on a nearby gallery wall was inspired by a high school yearbook photograph of a scene from an unidentifiable theatrical production. Mr. Kelley’s film projects what might have lurked in the repressed unconscious of that innocent image: a subterranean theater of lust and perversity, which he set within and around the “Exploded Fortress.” During the video’s 24 minutes, a menacing man in a green top hat and paisley dress repeatedly threatens to use an ear of corn to anally rape an anxious clown in a football uniform. A Sadean libertine administers a bloody whipping to the bared buttocks of a woman in a wedding dress, and, in an especially illuminating scene, he kneels to contemplate the glowing, bell-jar-covered Kandor inside the “Fortress.” Here, a personification of Dionysian excess draws close to a vision of Apollonian order, yet remains separated from it by its glass container.

In effect, that moment asks, How do we reconcile our capacities for high-minded idealism on the one hand, and our impulses for cruelty, disorder and destruction on the other? That Mr. Kelley offered no way to integrate those opposites is a large part of what makes his art so unsettlingly, pessimistically provocative. That he could not — or would not — envision a middle ground, a place where ordinary, messy life might flourish with all its complications and contradictions, was his tragedy.

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles: Reviews of the Debut Show and the Architecture – Updated







NY Observer / Gallerist

The Soul of the New Broad Museum
The welcome for a new L.A. arts institution has been dimmed by personality and politics
By Alexandra Peers | 09/24/15 9:00am






In a city all about cars, it was striking that the streets were closed around Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles last weekend. It was all for the opening of America’s newest major art museum, the Broad Museum. Bill Clinton, who was the keynote speaker at the opening party, might’ve had something to do with the street closures, or perhaps his Secret Service detail did. But the bottom line is that a slice of one of the nation’s largest cities was cleared to make it easier for guests to cross the street from a museum to a glamorous dinner held under giant globes of golden light and scored by an orchestra of musicians in white tuxedos.

At that dinner, one of two held over two nights to handle the hundreds on the guest list, from Reese Witherspoon to Chrissie Hynde to Takashi Murakami, Bill Clinton gave museum founder and art collector Eli Broad a hearty hug and raved about his philanthropy. The former president dubbed the museum project “phenomenal,” and talked about knowing the Broads, Eli and wife Edythe, for 30 years. And he joked—to raucous laughter from a crowd of some of the more famous or well-connected people in the country—that both men had married up.

And there you have it: Much of the discussion and coverage, prior and post-September 20 opening of the new West Coast Contemporary arts institution, has centered around the issues of power and the influence of its founder, billionaire Eli Broad. Mr. Broad’s yellow-traffic-cone-wielding power in Los Angeles. Mr. Broad’s wallet power in the art market. Mr. Broad’s power in politics.
Eli Broad, Bill Clinton and Joanne Heyler attend The Broad Museum Opening Celebration at The Broad on September 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images)

Eli Broad, Bill Clinton and Joanne Heyler attend The Broad Museum Opening Celebration at The Broad on September 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images)

Yes, Mr. Broad, a Forbes 500-er who made his billions in the home-building and financial services industries, is indeed a powerful man. But the focus is misplaced: art always trumps. So, whatever the back story of how his $140 million eponymous museum came to be, if nothing else giving it entirely free of charge, and free of admission, to the people of Los Angeles buys him the right to have it looked at on its own merits.

Which, it turns out, are considerable.

On Grand Avenue, the Diller Scofidio and Renfro-designed white rectangle of honeycombed lattice looks like an Apple store with better products, which doesn’t sound like a compliment but is. There’s a lightness and technological modernity to it. The design is a savvy solution to the almost insurmountable problem that it is adjacent to Walt Disney Hall, a Frank Gehry masterpiece, which was always going to have it for lunch no matter what it tried to do, architecturally speaking.

Some critics have, ironically, accused the Broads of following art trends that frankly they themselves might’ve started. It’s like blaming the Pied Piper for the rats.

Inside, its lobby is a beautiful surprise: a deep slate gray with caverns and a very steep long escalator that disappears into the ceiling, or heaven—for a minute when you enter you are not sure which. In the stairwell there are rare and nifty glimpses into storage of the hundreds of works not on view, a feature unique to this art institution. Light streams in unexpected spots through a transparent webbing. In the Broad’s main third floor gallery, it has a few too many of the big white walls we’ve come to expect, and be utterly bored by, in Contemporary art museums, but perhaps that will evolve.

The museum will showcase, on a rotating basis, highlights from Eli and Edythe Broad’s over 2,000-artwork collection, virtually all of the works on display dating from the 1960s or later. These include some jaw-droppers from Joseph Beuys, Sam Francis, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein (a roomful), all the way up to recent art from Kara Walker and Neo Rauch. The Broads collect artists in depth, so there’s a real immersion here, not just a fast flip through an art history text, one of the things that really sets it apart. (That depth showcases the work of Mr. Murakami to particularly fine effect.) And there is a Jasper Johns flag that is particularly moving and beautiful.

In the Broad Museum, two must-see pieces are given their own spaces, deservedly so: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room (the Souls of Millions of Light Years Away) and The Visitors, a nine-screen video art installation by Iceland artist Ragnar Kjartansson, which features nine musicians playing a piece of music simultaneously, but scattered in various rooms of a decaying mansion.

The mega-collectors’ considerable trove had been expected to go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and there are those still smarting that it did not. Certainly that emblematic Johns flag may have belonged in a national, public collection. And curators always grouse loudly that every wealthy collector thinks he can run a museum. That cliché may be true, but it’s also sour grapes.

At least the Broad Museum’s location, next to Disney Hall and across from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the city’s existing Museum of Contemporary Art (currently showing a fine Matthew Barney film and sculpture exhibition, River of Fundament) creates something of a needed critical mass of culture in the very spread-out city.
A still from Ragnar Kjartansson’s film The Visitors. (Photo: © Ragnar Kjartansson/Courtesy The Broad Museum)

A still from Ragnar Kjartansson’s film The Visitors. (Photo: © Ragnar Kjartansson/Courtesy The Broad Museum)

Some of the criticism of the museum has centered on the fact that it is a snapshot of much of the art market right now, that it codifies, even anoints, a list of exactly who you would have expected to see. That, for a personal museum, it isn’t personal or idiosyncratic enough. It’s true: You will find these artists in a lot of collections and, more to the point, in a lot of auction catalogs. But that ironically accuses the Broads of following trends that frankly they themselves might’ve started. It’s like blaming the Pied Piper for the rats.

Consider Jeff Koons. They bought his work really early, in-depth and courageously, given the amount of eye rolling their fanaticism was met with. Love him or hate him, Mr. Koons is in those art history books now. And there’s a moment in the new Broad where you can look from an iconic 1970s felt suit by Joseph Beuys to see Mr. Koons’ famous stainless steel bunny and suddenly see each of them in new ways.

Mission accomplished, Mr. Broad.






The Art World September 28, 2015 Issue
Going Downtown
Eli Broad opens his own museum in Los Angeles.
By Peter Schjeldahl


Works by Jeff Koons and Christopher Wool on the third floor, where the lighting—natural and artificial—adjusts automatically. Credit Courtesy Bruce Damonte / The Broad / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Broad, it’s called: a snazzy new museum of excellent contemporary art, which just opened in downtown Los Angeles, right across the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art. If that sounds redundant, consider that, a few miles away, on Wilshire Boulevard, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art also features a contemporary collection, as does, a bit farther west, the Hammer Museum. Besides being no more than fifty years old, all these institutions—along with the wondrous Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, which stands next door to the Broad—have in common histories of the patronage and the aggressive, sometimes resented, influence of the billionaire philanthropist and collector Eli Broad.

Few individuals whose surnames aren’t Medici have had such dramatic effect on the art culture of an important city. The new museum crowns a particular passion of Broad’s: to create a cultural center for Los Angeles along a stretch of Grand Avenue, which also boasts the Music Center—home to the Disney hall and three other venues—and the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. The words “Los Angeles” and “center” consort oddly, especially since the city’s ever more apocalyptic traffic further dulls the local citizens’ never ardent yen to venture out of their usual ways. Nor does Grand Avenue feel like anybody’s idea of an agora. There are busy Latino and Asian neighborhoods nearby, but, after hours, you don’t encounter many people in the spottily gentrified downtown area (and a considerable number of those you do are homeless). At any time on the avenue, even cars are relatively sparse. Yet the dream of culture-craving throngs persists. The Broad offers free admission. Synergistically, moca has eased tense relations with its chief patron to grant free yearlong memberships to all who visit the Broad during the first two weeks. (Broad bailed out the foundering institution in 2008, but the director he selected departed under a cloud of acrimony, two years ago.)

The museum is well worth a visit now and periodic revisits later, as its exhibits cycle through a collection of some two thousand works by about two hundred artists. Around two hundred and fifty pieces are currently on display. Whomever Broad and his wife, Edythe, collect, they collect in depth. The show’s roughly chronological arrangement incorporates several rooms devoted to single artists, like pocket retrospectives. The building, by the New York firm of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, plays changes on a theme that the architects call “the veil and the vault”—masking what amounts to a storage facility for the collection. The façade is a slewed honeycomb of concrete modules: slitlike holes set in diagonal channels, which suggest the tidy claw marks of a very large cat. The building’s capacity to impress is muted by the material Ninth Symphony of the Gehry concert hall, but it’s pleasant enough.

You enter through a dim lobby with dark-gray, Surrealistically curved walls and ceiling. The lobby leads to shapely ground-floor galleries and offers the choice of a cylindrical glass elevator or a hundred-and-five-foot escalator—low-impact thrill rides—to the vast, columnless third floor, which is beautifully illuminated by automatically adjusted blends of natural and artificial light. The interior walls stop short of the skylight-riddled ceiling, conveying a temporary and flexible character. The vault portion of the building occupies the second floor. You catch sight of it through glass walls when you descend a hushed, snaking, umbilical-like stairwell: a cavernous space of racks and equipment, yielding glimpses of art works at rest between shows. It’s a nice touch, like a backstage pass at the opera.
View full screen

The third floor of the Broad.
Courtesy Iwan Baan / The Broad / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Broad, now eighty-two, and Edythe arrived in L.A. in 1963, from their home town of Detroit. The son of a union organizer who came to own dime stores, Broad started a home-building firm that ascended to the Fortune 500, as did a subsequent startup in financial services. (A how-to-succeed memoir, published in 2012, shares his secret in its title, “The Art of Being Unreasonable.” His friend Michael Bloomberg wrote the introduction.) Edythe introduced him to art, hesitantly. She wanted an Andy Warhol soup-can print, but worried that her husband would be appalled by the price: a hundred dollars. (They later parted with $11.7 million for a soup-can painting.) In 1972, they bought a van Gogh drawing, but Broad tired of it and arranged a swap for a rugged early painting by Robert Rauschenberg. The couple’s taste gravitated to Pop art—they own thirty-four works by Roy Lichtenstein—and to socially conscious, left-liberal sensibilities. (“I’m not as liberal as I used to be,” Broad told me, when I spoke with him at the museum, but he remains a Democrat.) He is rare among collectors in possessing abundant terrific works by the late Leon Golub, a painter of white-mercenary criminality in developing-world locales. The museum’s inaugural show presents a large charcoal drawing, by Robert Longo, from a photograph taken last year in Ferguson, Missouri, in which police advance, at night, in a fog of tear gas.

Once committed to collecting, the Broads anchored their holdings with canonical works by Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, and Ellsworth Kelly. Twombly and Kelly aside—and excepting a more recent fondness for Albert Oehlen and Mark Grotjahn—they shied from abstraction, and skated lightly over Conceptualist art of the nineteen-seventies. In the eighties, the Broads went in big for neo-expressionist and Pictures Generation artists, notably Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cindy Sherman. (They own a hundred and twenty-four pictures by Sherman.) The German artists Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz, and Thomas Struth are also strongly represented, and recent New York stars in the collection include Christopher Wool, John Currin, Glenn Ligon, and Kara Walker. But, with the prominent exceptions of Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Mike Kelley, Chris Burden, Charles Ray, Robert Therrien, and Lari Pittman, the Broads have braved local exasperation by not going out of their way to boost L.A. artists.

There’s not much installation art on view, but there is one gem: “The Visitors” (2012), by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. The piece consists of nine gorgeous, hour-long video projections, placed at odd angles in a dark room, of as many musicians, sitting in separate rooms in a dilapidated mansion, and noodling with a love song. The exquisiteness of sight and sound and the pathos of the musicians’ shared loneliness brought tears to my eyes when I first saw the piece, at the Luhring Augustine Gallery, two years ago. Would that happen again, during a note-taking tour of a jam-packed museum? It did.

Broad’s favorite contemporary artist seems to be Jeff Koons, whose works he owns in profusion—from encased vacuum cleaners, floating basketballs, and a stainless-steel inflated bunny to a huge, color-tinted, stainless-steel rendering of tulips and the inevitable balloon dog. Broad came to Koons’s rescue in the nineties, at a tough time—financially and personally—for the artist, and paid a million dollars for several future works that he waited years to receive. He calls Koons’s output “bold and theatrical,” words that could well be engraved on a cornerstone of the museum; Broad adores punch. The sometimes bitterly voiced controversies that surround Koons seem to concern him not at all. It’s in Broad’s nature, when crossed or confronted, to plow forward with undeterred aplomb. He appears immune to grudges, seldom keeping for long the enemies he can’t help but make. (A history of scraps with Frank Gehry, in particular, has not obviated expressions, at least in public, of amity on both sides.) Koons’s sunny disposition and shame-free panache suit Broad, as does his work’s insouciant symbolizing of oligarchic noblesse oblige. Why would anyone gainsay immense wealth when looking at the delightful things that may be done with it? ♦



Last night, about the same time that Marc Jacobs’s show brought a Hollywood premiere to midtown Manhattan, the Broad’s opening night gala hosted the New York art world in downtown Los Angeles. After a week that saw MOCA celebrate Matthew Barney’s “River of Fundament” and Gagosian debut new work by Urs Fischer, the city was primed to welcome its newest cultural landmark.

Upon arriving—and after first taking in Rachel Feinstein, characteristically dazzling in Gucci—it was impossible to ignore that seemingly every major New York institution was represented at the inauguration of Grand Avenue’s new crown jewel: There was Ann Temkin from MoMA, the Met’s Sheena Wagstaff, the Guggenheim’s Ari Wiseman, New Museum director Lisa Phillips, Thelma Golden of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Whitney director Adam Weinberg, and Dia’s new director Jessica Morgan. Anyone who thought a personally funded operation couldn’t be taken seriously in the museum ecosystem has never met Eli Broad.

The Diller Scofidio + Renfro building—to my eye, a stonework riff on the National Aquatics Center from the Beijing Olympics—is now home to nearly 2,000 works from Eli and Edythe Broad’s encyclopedic collection of blue-chip contemporary art. It’s hard not to see the space as a resplendent trophy room, the proud product of decades of big-game collecting. One enters via an escalator that passes through an organic-shaped concrete tube (the best guess for its inspiration might be an elephant trunk) that opens into a white-walled warehouse that has a number of Christopher Wool word paintings and a rainbow Jeff Koons balloon. Not impressed? There are cavernous galleries devoted to artists like Takashi Murakami and (you guessed it) Koons, making each room feel like a mini retrospective, complemented last night by the artists themselves. There is a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room, which of course had a queue to enter even on opening night. Still nonplussed? There are also quieter moments at The Broad, like a gallery dedicated to Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors—a nine-channel video that felt persuasive and intimate, even in black tie.

After a tour of the museum, last night’s guests traversed Grand Avenue, which had been shut down and covered in a red carpet, for a dinner accompanied by the L.A. Philharmonic, who played the theme songs to The Godfather and Titanic, in case anyone had forgotten which coast they were on. After all, The Broad is, if nothing else, really about L.A. When it opens to the public on Sunday, The Broad will be free of charge, making it feel like a genuinely generous addition to the city. In that regard, at least, it’s the ne plus ultra.


Unveiled: The Broad art museum by Diller Scofidio + Renfro opens

After years of hype, development and anticipation, philanthropist Eli Broad’s contemporary art museum, The Broad, is finally opening this weekend on Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles. The 120,00 square foot, $140 million project, designed by New York architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, contains almost 2,000 of Broad’s contemporary art pieces as well as storage, conservation facilities, offices, an auditorium, and an adjacent restaurant and park.

It’s arguably the most significant new building – both culturally and architecturally – in the city since its neighbour, Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall, opened in 2003. And in many ways, the Broad is a direct response to Disney’s riotous, gleaming form. How could a new edifice try to out-Gehry Gehry? Instead it’s a very different, eroded structure, covered by a ‘veil’ of tapered, honeycomb-shaped fiberglass reinforced concrete panels. That form – and pretty much everything else about the building – wraps around its heart, known as the ‘vault’, which contains storage for the prodigious collection behind heavy concrete walls. DSR Project Director Kevin Rice calls the vault the ‘protagonist’ of the design, despite the fact that the veil gets all the attention.

On the underside of the vault is the lobby, a carved out, (relatively) dimly lit first floor space with smooth, cool walls evocative of a cave. Its organic shape was concieved to contrast with the rigid, computer-produced uniformity of the veil. ‘Throwing you off your expectations with its organic form is the perfect way to transition from the street to taking in the art itself,’ says Joanne Heyler, Director of the Broad Art Foundation. The entrance level also contains simple but spacious galleries – in most museums their 18-foot height would be formidable – for temporary exhibitions.

The third floor contains the building’s highlight: the 35,000 square foot, 23-foot-tall gallery space, glowing with rhythmic, controlled natural light from huge scooped and angled skylights, and from repeated cuts in the veil. The dinosaur-like scale of the skylights, and the lack of any columns – thanks to giant steel girders hidden above – has a mesmerizing impact, especially coming from the darker, more compressed spaces below. ‘I’m incredibly pleased with how the collection lives under the diffuse light,’ says Heyler.

Connecting varied spaces through dramatic transition is a particular specialty of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and they follow through deftly here, creating moments like the veil lifting up to welcome visitors at ground level, the tube-like escalator (and magical glass cylinder elevator) cutting through the bulk of the vault to the main galleries, and the voyeur-like peeks into the vault along the winding stairs back down. ‘We like to think of our projects as cinematic,’ said DSR principal Charles Renfro. ‘There’s a kind of narrative unfolding. There’s foreshadowing. There are glimpses ahead. Things get stitched together to form a complete experience.’ Rice adds, ‘It’s not a secret we always wanted to be filmmakers.’

The pierced solidity of the veil excels inside, where slivers of glowing light create a radiating, mysterious effect. The striking exterior is also lightened by the fact that (thanks to what Rice calls an “epic” second floor cantilever) it only touches the ground once on Grand Avenue. In the upper gallery, the necessary measure of dividing art through temporary walls breaks up what is a glorious space, perhaps minimizing its potential. The dividing walls are still a few feet from the ceiling, connecting you to the whole.

But in all this is a spectacular addition the city; a dynamic, fluid, and cohesive, if not radical, monument to L.A.’s quickly ascending place in the cultural universe. While it won’t singlehandedly mend the scorched earth urbanism of Bunker Hill, it has already infused an already white-hot downtown Los Angeles with more energy, clout, and, of course, attention.

We have explored the brand new Broad in a bespoke photoshoot in our October 2015 issue, where Liz Diller, of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is one of our two esteemed Guest Editors. In the issue you can also find Diller’s conversation with graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, where she reflects on the practice’s significant body of work and, of course, the Broad.




The New Broad Museum Brings LA Lots of Blue-Chip Art and a Few Surprises

The Broad Museum (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

LOS ANGELES — The wait is over. After a 15-month delay, ballooning costs, and lawsuits, the Broad Museum is finally set to open this Sunday in downtown Los Angeles. The new 120,000 square foot institution houses the postwar and contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad. For the past four decades, the couple has had an outsized influence on the cultural life of LA. Eli Broad was a founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in 1979; he lent his financial support to the Hammer Museum in the 1990s; he was responsible for the Broad Contemporary Art Museum pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the 2000s; and bailed out MOCA when it was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2008. Some of these relationships eventually soured, ending in controversy, such as his decision to simply loan his works to LACMA, not donate them, as was widely assumed. It was not a huge surprise then, when he announced in 2008 that he would be building his own museum, one where he presumably wouldn’t have to deal with competing institutional interests.

Broad Founding Director Joanne Heyler, Eli and Edythe Broad, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and architect Elizabeth Diller

Yesterday’s press event was packed with arts writers, TV crews, and radio personalities, all waiting to get our first glimpse inside of the building, finally filled with art. We’ve been watching the progress of the building — adventurously designed by architecture firm Diller, Scofidio + Renfro — for the past few years, but only a few select critics had seen the collection installed. The street in front of the museum was shut down for the event. Free of cars — a rarity in LA — Grand Avenue had an odd post-apocalyptic feel. We gathered under the beaming LA sun, in front of the building’s porous white façade — the “veil” as it’s called — to hear opening remarks from philanthropists Eli and Edythe, the Broad Founding Director Joanne Heyler, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and architect Elizabeth Diller.

Garcetti hailed the Broad as further proof that LA had arrived as a major art capital on the level of — or even surpassing — New York. Diller spoke about the museum’s design, and the challenges inherent in working in the shadow of Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall just across the street. “We realized that we couldn’t compete, so we opted for a relationship of contrast to our neighbor: porous and matte next to smooth and shiny. We brought our exuberant curves inside the building.” She joked about Broad’s notoriously controlling manner. “Thank for you participating so closely in the process, Eli. Maybe too closely. We were duly warned.” Then, after a series of photo ops, we were mercifully allowed out of the sun and into the cool, grey, undulating interior of the Broad’s lobby, like kids in an art candy store.

Robert Therrien, "No Title" (1993), ceramic epoxy on fiberglass, 94 x 60 x 60 in.

Until now, most of the attention has been on the building’s design. Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s “vault and the veil” concept puts the Broad’s entire 2,000 piece collection (minus Charles Ray’s “Firetruck”) into a 21,000 square foot storage facility in the building’s core. Around this “vault” on the second floor, there are 50,000 square feet of exhibition space on the first and third floor. Impressive engineering allows the top floor exhibition space to be virtually unencumbered by support beams or walls. Two windows in the stairwell allow visitors to peer into the vault giving the impression of transparency. There is something to be said for the thrill of being able to glimpse behind the curtain, but it’s unclear if this will translate to a greater institutional transparency or if it’s just a cool gimmick.

Window into the vault.

The museum’s exterior, the “veil,” is a honeycombed, perforated shell that wraps around the building, allowing natural light to filter into the exhibition spaces, and reinforcing a connection to the street outside. This was one of the costliest and most problematic elements of construction, and it has also been the butt of jokes likening the building to a cheese grater among other things.


A break in the façade, dubbed the oculus, behind which sits a conference room, have inspired comparisons to the Death Star with Broad sitting in as the Emperor. It’s an intriguing design overall, but $140 million seems like a steep price tag for intrigue.

Works by Jeff Koons.

But what about the art? The Broad Collection has received some criticism for lacking a consistent vision, or for being dated, or for being too trendy. It is after all, a subjective collection reflecting the tastes of only two individuals. It would be surprising if it wasn’t uneven. After reading more than a few articles about Broad’s passion for Koons (he owns 34), I expected to see mostly flashy, blockbuster artworks — perfect for our current moment of inflation and speculation — and while there are quite a few of those, that’s not the whole story.

Works by Julie Mehretu, Christopher Wool, and Jeff Koons.

After riding the long escalator from the dim lobby, and emerging in the sun-drenched third floor galleries, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by stunning works by Mark Bradford, Julie Mehretu, and El Anatsui, giving a prominent place to works by female artists, queer artists, and artists of color. Sure, Koons and Christopher Wool held down the opposite side of the room as if to say, “Not so fast!” but it was at least a step in the right direction. The rest of the collection swayed between these two poles: the strain of glossy, slick Pop of which Koons is the current reigning champ, and more socially-oriented work, often created by groups traditionally under-represented in the art world, like women and people of color. The Broad’s director Joanne Heyler said as much when she told me: “I like the idea that a museum in the complex world that we live in is filled with many types of art. One important part is artists who still feel strongly that painful, difficult things in our social condition today need to be addressed.”

Works by Andy Warhol.

The spacious top floor is the historic basis of the collection, featuring work from the past sixty years. It is not a comprehensive overview, but tells a specific story based on the Broad’s interest. Canonical artists like Warhol, Twombly, Johns ,and Rauschenberg are well represented. Significantly, so are LA artists like Mike Kelley, John Baldessari, Charles Ray, Chris Burden, and Ed Ruscha. There are crowd pleasers like Damien Hirst, but also Kara Walker cut-outs and in-your-face Barbara Kruger works.

Kara Walker.

German artists Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys have a room, as do Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and John Ahearn — New York artists who epitomized an earlier boom time. Something almost all of the works have in common is their formidable size, which was surely a major consideration when designing the building. Smaller works would most certainly be dwarfed by the architecture.

Taskashi Murakami room.

The first floor is dedicated to works from the past fifteen years, and will hold thematic exhibitions. This section is more uneven, though the possibility of shows with a curatorial intent other that highlighting the collection is promising. The Takashi Murakami room here resembles a garish theme park, whereas Ragnar Kjartansson’s 9-screen video piece “The Visitors” provides a pensive and touching alternative. Combining the blockbuster with the meditative is Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Room,” which can fill even the most jaded art goers with awe.

Ragnar Kjartansson, "The Visitors" (2012), nine channel HD video projection

The Broad isn’t the one museum that’s going to save LA, or make the world respect us as an art capital. It reflects the tastes of two collectors, which as Holland Cotter noted in the New York Times, is actually a throwback to the previous century’s great museums founded by the likes of Morgan and Frick. Admission to the Broad will be free, allowing a larger section of the population the ability to experience contemporary art, something that many more ostensibly “democratic” museums do not offer. It is true that the collection may be uneven, but perhaps it makes sense to think of the Broad, as William Poundstone suggests, as simply one more part of the messy and diffuse cultural landscape that is LA.

Jeff Wall and Charles Ray.

Damien Hirst and Andreas Gursky

John Baldessari and Cady Noland.

Works by Keith Haring, John Ahearn, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Mike Kelley

Assitant Curator Ed Schad discussing Cy Twombly's work.

Robert Longo, Jeff Koons, Peter Halley

El Anatsui, "Red Block" (2010), found aluminum and copper wire, 200 3/4 x 131 1/2 in.

Mark Bradford, "Corner of Desire and Piety" (2008), 72 collages: acrylic gel medium, cardboard paper, caulking, silkscreen ink, acrylic paint, and additional mixed media, 135 3/4 x 344 1/4 in.

Goshka Macuga, "Death of Marxism, Women of All Lands Unite" (2013), wool tapestry, 220 x 113 5/8 in.


The Broad Museum offers free but timed tickets, which are available on their website. The Museum officially opens to the public on Saturday, September 19, 2015.



Works by Takashi Murakami on display at the Broad museum in Los Angeles, which opens on Sept. 20. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — Traditional art museums are some of the most conservative and controlling institutions on earth. They are built as vaults to preserve the past, and as monuments to edited histories. In the Gilded Age America of a century or so ago, many new museums were also monuments to private collectors — Henry Clay Frick, J. P. Morgan, Isabella Stewart Gardner — who strove to shape and fix an image that history would have of them, as enlightened power brokers of their day and benefactors to the future.

In our present Gilded Age, private collection museums are again proliferating, but with a difference. Most are devoted to new art, art without a past. The stories they tell are not yet history, but exist in a state of flux. The very definition of collecting, in a time of speculative buying, is now up for grabs. Shouldn’t these changes radically alter the old museum model, loosen it up, make it more experimental, shift its identity from locked treasure house to clearinghouse for fresh ideas?

These questions arise as one of the most eagerly anticipated private museums of contemporary art in the country approaches its opening here next week.


The Broad is housed in a new $140 million building. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Called The Broad (pronounced brode) and housed in a $140 million, three-story building by Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, it enshrines the collection of some 2,000 works owned by Eli and Edythe Broad, two of this city’s leading philanthropists.

Mr. Broad, a billionaire who made his fortune in home building, has arguably had more impact shaping this city’s cultural identity than anyone else in recent times. For nearly 50 years, he and his wife have been among the country’s most assiduous contemporary collectors. They began picking up work by hot young artists — Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman — in Manhattan in the early 1980s, later filling in historical blanks and doing some buying in their own California backyard.

The inaugural display is clearly intended to show the collection in representative form, and does. The museum’s founding director and chief curator, Joanne Heyler, has installed some 200 works more or less chronologically on the building’s skylighted third floor, beginning with a clutch of classic pieces by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly. Mr. Johns’s 1964 “Watchman” is a star; a blood-red Rauschenberg abstraction from a decade earlier is less familiar, but the Broads cashed in a Van Gogh drawing to acquire it.

“Tulips” by Jeff Koons, a favorite artist of the philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, is among the works included in their museum’s inaugural display. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Andy Warhol, whose Campbell’s Soup Can pictures Ms. Broad first saw (but didn’t buy) as early as the 1960s, has a small gallery of his own; Roy Lichtenstein has a larger one. He is a Broad favorite; they own 34 pieces (there are 10 here), as is his successor in formally polished Pop, Jeff Koons, of whose works the Broads have the greatest number in private hands. Is this something to brag about? An argument can be made that Mr. Koons’s work usefully casts a cold eye on an American, and now global, addiction to bright, empty, throwaway things. But what happens when a presumably critical art is indistinguishable from its target, or is not critical after all? Then chances are good it’s headed for history’s scrap heap, eventually if not now.

Speaking of critical commentary, in an inspired compare-and-contrast move, Ms. Heyler has inserted a 1995 panoramic city painting by the Los Angeles artist Lari Pittman into the Koons gallery. Mr. Pittman’s work, too, comes out of a Pop corner and is formally airtight. It’s also conceptually razor-sharp. It deals with all the American subjects Mr. Koons does — sex, religion, celebrity, death — but with a focus and bite that he lacks.

Lari Pittman, “Like You.” Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The concentration of Los Angeles art is the most interesting aspect of the inaugural show, at least for this East Coast viewer. Ed Ruscha’s laconically meticulous word paintings and John Baldessari’s recycled film images may fit the collection’s clean-lined Pop proclivities, while the acidic zaniness of Mike Kelley’s work does not, but the Broads bought plenty of it over the years. I’m always glad to see it, and I’m even gladder to encounter things I’ve never seen, like the sculpture called “Bateau de Guerre” by the apocalypse-minded Chris Burden, who died in May. A whirring, blinking death star made of gas cans and toy guns, it wasn’t in the recent Burden retrospective that came to New York.


Chris Burden’s  “Bateaux de Guerre.” Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

I wish there were more things like it here, under-known, offbeat, less than neat. And there could be. With a reported $200- million-plus endowment and additional funds for acquisitions — nearly that of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art combined — the Broad will be doing a lot more buying. And it would be good if this museum started to stray from the blue-chip-masterpiece path that winds its way from Mr. Koons on the third floor to a gallery on the first floor of big, bland, abstract pictures by Mark Grotjahn and Christopher Wool, artists who, because they cover walls with work that is indisputably “art,” have become universal collection staples.

Their presence here makes the Broad feel ordinary, old-school, predictable. A tight, unadventurous building design doesn’t help. The exterior, with its sheets of perforated, biomorphic white cladding — the color and texture of gefilte fish — is eye-filling but unmagical, though there are nice touches inside. The cavernlike lobby sets up a mood of mystery. The third floor skylights are a pleasure, as are occasional breaks in the white-box gallery walls that give glimpses onto the street.

Robert Therrien’s “No Title,” a 1993 ceramic epoxy on fiberglass piece, adorns the front entrance. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The street is Grand Avenue, which Mr. Broad, in consultation with the city government, has long planned to develop into a downtown cultural district. The Broad is part of that plan. So is the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall next door to it, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, which Mr. Broad helped found and has generously supported, directly across the street. In a stretched-out, traffic-clogged city it takes a long time to travel anywhere. You need a good reason to go where you’re going. By offering free admission, Mr. Broad intends his museum to be a popular destination.

It surely will be while it’s new, and in the news, and could continue to be. The Broads have always viewed their holdings as a public asset that they make accessible through an active institutional loan program. They refer to their holdings as a lending library, with items regularly leaving for other museums and returning. This traffic flow, enhanced by the arrival of new acquisitions, should encourage people to make repeat visits, knowing they are likely to see new things each time.

But even with this mechanism for flexibility, the Broad is a museum of an old-fashioned kind. It’s been built to preserve a private collection conceived on a masterpiece ideal and consisting almost entirely of distinctive objects: paintings and sculptures; precious things. Apart from most of the objects being new, or at least not old, the Broad could have existed, pretty much as is, a century ago.


John Ahearn’s “Raymond and Toby,” flanked by Keith Haring paintings. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

But, of course, art itself has changed. It is no longer only about things, hasn’t been for decades. Since the great surge of dematerialization introduced by conceptualism in the 1960s, art has been about, among other things, ideas, actions, sounds, performance, networks, communication. The Broad will have to catch up with this alternative history, a history that the audience it wants to attract and hold already knows. What better way to do so than through collaboration with an institution that has a stake in exploring the same history, meaning, of course, the Museum of Contemporary Art across the street.

The two could share, to their mutual benefit, space, expertise and personnel. What they already share is a tough time for museums and a history with Mr. Broad, who, over a tireless half-century, has done wonders for art in this city, and, with the opening of his museum, is about to do more.

Correction: September 13, 2015
A Sept. 13 print version of this review included an incorrect byline in some editions. It is by Holland Cotter, not Bernard Holland.

Review: An early look in the Broad museum reveals a show that doesn’t quite gel


Entertainment Broad Museum Jackson Pollock Walt Disney Concert Hall Julian Schnabel Los Angeles County Museum of Art Eli Broad

An early look in the Broad museum reveals a show that doesn’t quite gel
Christopher Knight
Los Angeles Times

A view of works by Roy Lichtenstein inside the Broad museum. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times / © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein)

The city’s urban culture gulch is on the brink of opening a major new art museum — L.A.’s seventh — as the Broad finishes preparations for its Sept. 20 debut downtown.

The flashy new building stands next to Walt Disney Concert Hall and REDCAT and across Grand Avenue from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Colburn School. The latest project of billionaire philanthropists and art collectors Eli and Edythe Broad, it launches with a 50,000-square-foot exhibition drawn exclusively from its wide-ranging permanent collection.


Unfortunately the show doesn’t gel, although many works are superlative. Roughly 250 pieces by about 60 artists have been chosen from around 2,000 possibilities by nearly 200 artists.
The Broad
Caption The Broad
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times / © Cy Twombly

Installation view of Cy Twombly works.
The Broad
Caption The Broad
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times and © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / ARS, NY

A space for Andy Warhol works.

Any curator will tell you that it takes time to learn a new building’s personality quirks — to figure out how best to configure temporary walls, take advantage of sight lines that let art pull a visitor through the galleries and calibrate an installation so that objects visually speak to one another. The Broad’s inaugural installation began only in June. That’s quick.

Three visits over that relatively brief period revealed a work in evolutionary progress, with many changes along the way. Some may yet come before doors open to a curious public next week.

The museum bills the exhibition as “a sweeping, chronological journey” through the collection. But, in addition to feeling random (why this artist and not that one?), much of the best work has been seen before. Two large Broad exhibitions — in 2001 and 2008 — were held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, so this opening has a lot of déjà vu.

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The strongest feature is the collection’s depth in the representation of individual artists, especially Pop-related. When the couple commit to acquiring an artist’s work, usually they collect in depth — a practice surely inspired by the example of Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza di Biumo, the great Italian collectors of postwar American art whose collection is an anchor at MOCA.

Few museums have the resources to acquire, say, two dozen Jeff Koons sculptures, as the Broad has. (The inaugural features eight — plus one dreadful painting, a medium for which he has no talent.) Several bountiful single-artist rooms make you linger longer.
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Among Andy Warhol’s 11 paintings is a 1962 “Dance Diagram” correctly displayed on the floor, not hanging on a wall. (It’s meant to send up Jackson Pollock, who dripped paint while dancing around a canvas unfurled on the floor.) Roy Lichtenstein’s 10 Pop paintings provide a stunning survey of his 1960s breakthrough, giving mass-media makeovers to Impressionist, Fauve, Cubist and other historic paintings.

Just four Ellsworth Kelly paintings fill another room, but their seamless fusion of bold geometric shapes, crisp composition and saturated colors grabs you by the lapels. Among them is one from a breakout 1963 series, a masterpiece acquired two years ago.

A vivid green rectangle and a bright blue oval are surrounded by a crimson field. All calmly share the same flat plane, perfectly balanced in scale and chromatic intensity, yet straining to burst their optical bonds. Kelly makes poise look easy.

NYT Holand Cotter liked what he saw. I will go with that and plan to visit in October when I arrive LA from Boston.
at 2:56 PM September 13, 2015

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Closer to the present, five paintings and sculptures by Takashi Murakami push the collection’s Pop art focus forward in time. Murakami’s creepy cartoon cheerfulness about a Japanese society riven by post-atomic tensions takes a monumental turn in a new, 82-foot-long mural.

“In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” conjures a mythic narrative inspired by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that tore open the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Great waves of storm-tossed sea monsters cavort around a grim mountain of skulls — a landscape of elegant, stylishly sophisticated awfulness.

Writer Pico Iyer wryly observes in the 8-pound, 2-inch-thick collection catalog published to coincide with the show that wartime emperor Hirohito was buried with the Mickey Mouse wristwatch he snagged on a 1975 trip to Disneyland. Murakami’s art unpeels the perpetual violation of innocence that characterizes modern Japan.
The Broad museum
Caption The Broad museum
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

The Broad, a $140-million museum of modern and contemporary art, is set to open Sept. 20 on Grand Avenue.
The Broad museum
Caption The Broad museum
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the Broad museum and its eye-catching honeycomb facade, dubbed “the veil.”

Perhaps the most viscerally gorgeous room is Cy Twombly’s, with seven lush paintings and three ghostly sculptures. A difficult artist, especially for audiences of the “My Child Could Do That” school of fusty art criticism, Twombly’s paintings mix drawing and writing. The aim is to free them from established strictures of earth-bound depiction.

It’s no mean feat. An epic array of unruly lines unfolds — tightly crabbed scratches, abstract penmanship and luxurious, billowing slathers. Marks lodge inside or sometimes bleed through translucent layers of paint, bursting through the pentimento into enormous floral thunderclouds. Twombly’s art is like an insistent echo of forgotten graffiti, murmuring from ancient walls.

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I wish the exhibition continued on this way, with only monographic rooms. A core collecting philosophy for nearly 40 years would take center stage.

Instead, except for rooms for John Currin and Glenn Ligon, the show mostly flips into conventional mode. Packaged art movements popular in New York in the late 1970s and after are chronicled. Blandness settles in.

Galleries advance the image-scavenging of appropriation art, such as Richard Prince’s sly painting of an old barroom joke and Sherrie Levine’s cast-bronze copy of a Marcel Duchamp urinal. Neo-Expressionism includes the smashed crockery of Julian Schnabel and the psycho-sexual unease of Eric Fischl’s suburbia, both rejecting Minimal and Conceptual coolness and returning to easel painting. In graffiti art, socially marginalized artists like African American whiz-kid Jean-Michel Basquiat and gay activist Keith Haring invade the patrician canvas with the street’s rough-and-tumble.

A choppy, incomplete history is told with too many works juxtaposed in spaces too confined. Many individual works are fine but together feel jumbled and thin.

One feature gives me the willies. It concerns conservation of fragile art. The show is peppered with works on paper, photographic and painted, which should be kept from sunlight but aren’t.

It’s divided between a first-floor suite of rooms, which in the future will house temporary and traveling shows, and a wide-open third-floor space, topped by a dramatic ceiling. A 35,000-square-foot honeycomb of fixed skylights faces north, bringing in flat, cool, filtered natural light.
How Edye Broad’s ‘natural eye’ drew her billionaire husband into the art world
How Edye Broad’s ‘natural eye’ drew her billionaire husband into the art world

Display cases for 16 of Cindy Sherman’s great “Untitled Film Stills,” which ooze all-American anxiety, have the photos lying flat and facing up at the skylights. A monumental Mike Kelley acrylic on paper shows nested picture frames around the tiny vista of a bucolic mountain cabin, which gets swallowed up in a psychedelic frenzy of painted wood-grain that surrounds it.

Barbara Kruger transforms the language of popular graphic design into a subversive threat in an oversized photo-triptych of a sleek, predatory jungle cat underscored by the off-kilter legend, “Make my day.” Jasper Johns’ exquisite 1960 study “White Flag,” an ironic symbol that pleads for negotiated surrender, makes me gulp: It’s oil on newspaper on paper over lithograph.

A triple whammy. Museum director Joanne Heyler, who organized the show with Eli Broad, assures me that conservation precautions are being taken and works will rotate. But why take the risk? I’d feel better if the paper works were all downstairs, shielded from the mischievous sun.

That vast skylight is integral to the building’s narrative. When the $140-million museum was going up, attention was riveted on the façade’s elaborate lattice work, punctuated by a bellybutton window out front. The New York architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro dubbed the lattice a “veil” shrouding the museum’s inner “vault,” which houses the $2-billion art collection.
Arts and culture in pictures by The Times
Caption Arts and culture in pictures by The Times
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times photographers document the year in arts and culture.
Arts and culture in pictures by The Times | Malaviki Sarukkai
Caption Arts and culture in pictures by The Times | Malaviki Sarukkai
Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Malaviki Sarukkai performing at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on July 19, 2015. Sarukkai is the best-known exponent of South Indian classical dance.

But inside the front door an eccentric, head-turning entrance hall is now revealed. Undulating walls and ceiling in dark gray plaster create a long, narrow, organic space. Think urban cavern. The room is a theatrical imitation of a cavity burrowed deep inside the Earth.

It’s art-spelunking time: Welcome to Plato’s Cave.

Plato, student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, used his famous myth of the cave, where deceptive shadows lurk, to frame an aesthetic quandary: Does art’s friction between illusion and reality generate light or merely heat?

Board the Broad’s 105-foot escalator or glass-enclosed elevator, and you shoot up two floors, “Star Trek”-style, past the second-floor vault to the galleries above. There, art is poised between the shadowy illusion below and the clear California sun above.

NYT Holand Cotter liked what he saw. I will go with that and plan to visit in October when I arrive LA from Boston.
at 2:56 PM September 13, 2015

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The design’s pop-classical mythologizing is likely to slip by unnoticed to most visitors. (Maybe Hirohito would see Pirates of the Caribbean in the entry, not Plato’s Cave.) Theme architecture is always a bit much.

Anyhow, art does it better. Dead ahead off the escalator, Koons’ big, multicolored flower sculpture is laid out at the public’s feet — a fond welcome offering. Machined in stainless steel, these giant tulips, pristine and perfected, will never wilt, unlike nature’s fragile kind.

They’re beyond death. Koons flips the traditional role still-life flowers play, symbolizing mortality.

He further invokes the legendary tulip mania of 17th century Holland. The era also marks the art market’s modern emergence. Paintings and tulip bulbs became mediums of fevered commercial exchange.

“Tulips” tells us something we don’t always want to hear. The prospect of immortality, however vain, can be vested in precincts of incalculable wealth and extraordinary power. Like pyramids, say. Or the Broad.

The sculpture’s witty placement underscores the narrowness of the collection. It’s mainly rich in blue-chip art, defined by market value decided through consistent years of sales and confirmed at auction.

The market, subject to commercial limitations, is hardly infallible. It leaves a lot out. That’s why the show’s “sweep” feels choppy, and why about 80% of the 92 artists featured in the collection’s new catalog are male, which the art market favors.

It’s also why the show stresses art from New York and Europe, where art’s primary trading floors are located, but not Los Angeles, where the collection was assembled. Ironically, in “Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell,” his cheeky 1966-68 sign painting, L.A.’s John Baldessari gives the sardonic lowdown. “Paintings with cows and hens collect dust,” it declares, “while bulls and roosters sell.”

Markets always distinguish between what’s salable and what’s not, but they can’t calculate quality.


The problem with The Broad is the collection itself


Eli and Edythe Broad_photo by Elizabeth Daniels_33_SA_best of Eli and Edythe Broad_photo by Elizabeth Daniels_33_SA_best of

Co-founders of The Broad, Eli and Edythe Broad, in the third-floor galleries. (Elizabeth Daniels /Courtesy of The Broad)
By Philip Kennicott September 13 at 5:47 PM

LOS ANGELES — Eli Broad, the wealthy philanthropist who is about to open a major new museum in Los Angeles, is a billionaire straight from central casting. He is a self-made man in the quintessential American industry — home construction — who has also built and burnt bridges all across this sprawling city. Ask around, and no one seems to like him, though many call him effective and all agree he is the city’s supremely influential cultural leader, a Tamburlaine of contemporary art. They admire his brilliance, covet his money, fear his power and lament his character, which is described as imperious, egomaniacal and relentless.

Next Sunday, Broad and his wife, Edythe, will open The Broad, a $140 million museum that will store and display the Broad Collection, some 2,000 works, with a new one being added, on average, about once a week. Located next to Los Angeles’s iconic landmark of contemporary architecture, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad is designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the New York firm that created the Highline, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and was slated to design the ill-fated and unrealized temporary “Bubble” space for the Hirshhorn in Washington.

The juxtaposition is striking. Gehry’s Disney Hall is set at an angle to the street, and it shimmers, gleams and curves in all directions, while the Broad faces Grand Avenue squarely with a cool, white, box-like form covered in what the architects call a “veil” of perforated glass-fiber reinforced concrete. But even more striking than the contrast with the Gehry building is the Broad’s subtle argument with much of recent museum design. The prevailing theology of many public buildings today, including too many museums, is about erasing the line between the city and the structure, so that one feels the excitement of urban energy ever present, even while looking at art. The most salient example is the new Whitney Museum in New York, which makes love to Manhattan so eagerly that one can’t help but gape at the city’s promiscuous ubiquity.

The Broad is more inward looking, and allows for a more contemplative experience. Perhaps without intending to do so, it recaptures some of the spiritual drama of the much-maligned monumental museums of yesteryear: Fundamental to any tour of the Broad is a long escalator ride from the lobby level to the acre-square expanse of open, column-free exhibition space on the third floor. This escalation performs much of the same function as the wide, monumental steps that front many of the museums built a century ago. It separates the visitor from the city and from his cares, cars and concerns; it is a narthex for the age of distraction, allowing the mind to rebirth itself into a state of greater focus and spiritual expectation.

The escalator connects the two essential elements of the building. The “veil” is the exoskeleton, punctured by diagonal cuts and distended windows that look a bit like the webbed packing material that has mercifully replaced Styrofoam peanuts. At street level, the Grand Avenue corners of the veil lift up, recalling the shaved corner of the redesigned Juilliard School at Lincoln Center, another DS+R project. These triangular portals scoop in visitors from the street, who then discover the voluptuously non-Euclidean lobby, a space that feels both subterranean and monumental at the same time, like caverns measureless to man, or the underbelly of some enormous prehistoric mammal.

The undulating ceiling of the lobby is part of what the architects calls “the vault.” The Broads have long conceived of their collection as a “lending library” of art, and they wanted that collection stored on site. Ordinarily, that would mean creating a lot of back of house space with a storage facility hidden from view.

“We decided to turn that liability into a protagonist,” says Elizabeth Diller, one of the founding partners of DS+R. So the vault became a separate structural element inside the enveloping veil, not just a place to store art, but also a kind of mushroom in a box, overhanging the lobby from a giant cantilever, with the third-floor exhibition hall on the mushroom’s cap.

“You are always in relation to it,” says Diller. “It hovers over you, you shoot through it, you snake back through it and you come back out underneath it.” The museum’s circulation pattern offers visitors glimpses into the vault’s storage space as well, with its sliding racks of art visible from the complex descending staircase visitors follow after exploring the main gallery on the third floor.

All of this rests on a massive scaffolding that covers a three-floor parking structure. So it is a complex structure with dramatic but strikingly intuitive results. In some ways it recalls Gordon Bunshaft’s Beinecke Library at Yale, where the books are contained in a core glass-lined internal tower, surrounded by a dramatic translucent skin that mediates the light, while shutting out the world. It also has affinities with the old Whitney Building, designed by Marcel Breuer, which dramatically invites the visitor to step out of the world so as to see the world, through art, with renewed vigor.

It isn’t, of course, a perfect building. A lecture hall on the second floor feels austere and charmless, and is, surprisingly, the only interior place where one can experience one of the most whimsical features of the building, an oculus that looks from the outside like a thumb print or tiny crater in the veil. But the oculus doesn’t make much sense from inside the lecture hall, which is tiny and dispiriting. And a round elevator, which gives access from the lobby to the third floor, terminates in a distracting glass case in the middle of the main exhibition space.

The main problem, however, isn’t the building, but the Broad collection itself. More than 250 works are on display, and too many of them are the usual high-end trash. The volume of work chosen for the inaugural exhibition, on both the third floor and a smaller first-floor gallery that will eventually be used for temporary shows, is overwhelming. Partition walls clutter the third floor, and obliterate its spatial drama. And too many of the works are so large, and importune the visitor so aggressively, that one feels hectored by hectares of art.

Even though the bad overwhelms the great, there are great works throughout, including a magnificent room devoted to Cy Twombly documenting the arc of his career, iconic Pop works of the 1960s, and compelling art by Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and Jasper Johns. A room of Ellsworth Kelly is too constrained for the work to have impact, as is a giant piece by Robert Therrien, his 1994 “Under the Table,” which is a Brobdingnagian table and chairs stuffed into a Lilliputian gallery at one corner of the top floor.

Someone has taken care, here and there, to make smart moments amid the clangor, but Jeff Koons always wins. The first gallery encountered has large-scale, but effective work by Julie Mehretu, El Anatsui, and Mark Bradford, pieces that accentuate the drama of the exterior world you’ve left behind. Mehretu’s “Cairo,” 2013, recalls the Freudian overlays of history and the unconscious that are the essence of the megalopolis lifestyle; Bradford’s “Corner of Desire and Piety,” 2008, references the social failures of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe and by extension the frailty and irrationality of the urban fabric; and the El Anatsui tapestry, “Red Black,” 2010, undulating on the wall, recalls the skin of the museum itself, woven of many pieces, with a curious declivity dramatizing its strength. But a large Jeff Koons piece is droning nearby, vitiating thought with its generic monotone of irony.

A few spaces for video offer relief, including Ragnar Kjartansson magnificent “The Visitors,” 2012, and a room devoted to William Kentridge. But video doesn’t seem to be an essential part of this first display, nor are there oases of smaller work or works on paper to modulate the experience. Big is the theme, and it’s exhausting.

So leave the building and lest anyone deprecate it too much — which is inevitable given the local swelling and indigestion that Broad’s name seems to cause in this town — stand at the corner of Grand Avenue and Second Street. Behind you is Gehry’s metal masterpiece; before you is an estimable refusal to be intimidated by it. And if you look down the north face of the building, the angle of the distended cuts in the veil seem to be absorbing the power of the bright blue sky, radiating it down to the ground, while along the Grand Street façade the same energies seem to flow up out of the sidewalk and back to the heavens. The veil has an energy of its own, a force field protecting a dramatic rarity: a space for art that respects the experience of looking and engagement, as a thing apart, and something worth leaving the world behind to do on its own terms.

The Broad, located at 221 S. Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, opens to the public on Sept. 20. For more information visit

Philip Kennicott is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Art and Architecture Critic of The Washington Post. He has been on staff at the Post since 1999, first as Classical Music Critic, then as Culture Critic.


Co-founders of The Broad, Eli and Edythe Broad, in the third-floor galleries. (Elizabeth Daniels /Courtesy of The Broad)
By Philip Kennicott September 13 at 5:47 PM

LOS ANGELES — Eli Broad, the wealthy philanthropist who is about to open a major new museum in Los Angeles, is a billionaire straight from central casting. He is a self-made man in the quintessential American industry — home construction — who has also built and burnt bridges all across this sprawling city. Ask around, and no one seems to like him, though many call him effective and all agree he is the city’s supremely influential cultural leader, a Tamburlaine of contemporary art. They admire his brilliance, covet his money, fear his power and lament his character, which is described as imperious, egomaniacal and relentless.

Next Sunday, Broad and his wife, Edythe, will open The Broad, a $140 million museum that will store and display the Broad Collection, some 2,000 works, with a new one being added, on average, about once a week. Located next to Los Angeles’s iconic landmark of contemporary architecture, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad is designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the New York firm that created the Highline, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and was slated to design the ill-fated and unrealized temporary “Bubble” space for the Hirshhorn in Washington.

The juxtaposition is striking. Gehry’s Disney Hall is set at an angle to the street, and it shimmers, gleams and curves in all directions, while the Broad faces Grand Avenue squarely with a cool, white, box-like form covered in what the architects call a “veil” of perforated glass-fiber reinforced concrete. But even more striking than the contrast with the Gehry building is the Broad’s subtle argument with much of recent museum design. The prevailing theology of many public buildings today, including too many museums, is about erasing the line between the city and the structure, so that one feels the excitement of urban energy ever present, even while looking at art. The most salient example is the new Whitney Museum in New York, which makes love to Manhattan so eagerly that one can’t help but gape at the city’s promiscuous ubiquity.

The Broad is more inward looking, and allows for a more contemplative experience. Perhaps without intending to do so, it recaptures some of the spiritual drama of the much-maligned monumental museums of yesteryear: Fundamental to any tour of the Broad is a long escalator ride from the lobby level to the acre-square expanse of open, column-free exhibition space on the third floor. This escalation performs much of the same function as the wide, monumental steps that front many of the museums built a century ago. It separates the visitor from the city and from his cares, cars and concerns; it is a narthex for the age of distraction, allowing the mind to rebirth itself into a state of greater focus and spiritual expectation.

The escalator connects the two essential elements of the building. The “veil” is the exoskeleton, punctured by diagonal cuts and distended windows that look a bit like the webbed packing material that has mercifully replaced Styrofoam peanuts. At street level, the Grand Avenue corners of the veil lift up, recalling the shaved corner of the redesigned Juilliard School at Lincoln Center, another DS+R project. These triangular portals scoop in visitors from the street, who then discover the voluptuously non-Euclidean lobby, a space that feels both subterranean and monumental at the same time, like caverns measureless to man, or the underbelly of some enormous prehistoric mammal.

The undulating ceiling of the lobby is part of what the architects calls “the vault.” The Broads have long conceived of their collection as a “lending library” of art, and they wanted that collection stored on site. Ordinarily, that would mean creating a lot of back of house space with a storage facility hidden from view.

“We decided to turn that liability into a protagonist,” says Elizabeth Diller, one of the founding partners of DS+R. So the vault became a separate structural element inside the enveloping veil, not just a place to store art, but also a kind of mushroom in a box, overhanging the lobby from a giant cantilever, with the third-floor exhibition hall on the mushroom’s cap.

“You are always in relation to it,” says Diller. “It hovers over you, you shoot through it, you snake back through it and you come back out underneath it.” The museum’s circulation pattern offers visitors glimpses into the vault’s storage space as well, with its sliding racks of art visible from the complex descending staircase visitors follow after exploring the main gallery on the third floor.

All of this rests on a massive scaffolding that covers a three-floor parking structure. So it is a complex structure with dramatic but strikingly intuitive results. In some ways it recalls Gordon Bunshaft’s Beinecke Library at Yale, where the books are contained in a core glass-lined internal tower, surrounded by a dramatic translucent skin that mediates the light, while shutting out the world. It also has affinities with the old Whitney Building, designed by Marcel Breuer, which dramatically invites the visitor to step out of the world so as to see the world, through art, with renewed vigor.

It isn’t, of course, a perfect building. A lecture hall on the second floor feels austere and charmless, and is, surprisingly, the only interior place where one can experience one of the most whimsical features of the building, an oculus that looks from the outside like a thumb print or tiny crater in the veil. But the oculus doesn’t make much sense from inside the lecture hall, which is tiny and dispiriting. And a round elevator, which gives access from the lobby to the third floor, terminates in a distracting glass case in the middle of the main exhibition space.

The main problem, however, isn’t the building, but the Broad collection itself. More than 250 works are on display, and too many of them are the usual high-end trash. The volume of work chosen for the inaugural exhibition, on both the third floor and a smaller first-floor gallery that ==
Review : The new Broad museum, though efficiently designed, really only comes alive on the periphery

Christopher Hawthorne
Los Angeles Times

A wall of glass peeks out from under the Broad museum’s honeycomb facade, a striking element on a stretch of Grand Avenue that also features Disney Hall. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a depressingly reliable fact of Los Angeles architecture: Nothing comes easily on Bunker Hill.

In the five decades since city planners radically remade Grand Avenue in a burst of urban-renewal ambition, demolishing its Victorian-era houses and apartment buildings and carving the hilltop into vast super-blocks, architects have struggled to make sense of its peculiar, wide-open scale, which can swallow subtlety whole.

Arata Isozaki, Rafael Moneo and Wolf Prix are among the prominent architects to produce disappointing buildings along Grand. Even Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, ultimately a triumph, suffered agonizing delays and fundraising crises and took nearly 15 years to complete.

The newest addition to this uneven parade of high-rises, cultural buildings and still-empty parcels is the Broad, a $140-million museum of modern and contemporary art set to open Sept. 20 at the corner of Grand and 2nd Street.

An efficient three-story box of exhibition and archive space wrapped in an eye-catching, bone-white honeycomb of fiberglass-reinforced concrete panels, it was designed by the New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R for short), which won a small invited competition organized in 2010 by Eli Broad, the billionaire philanthropist and art collector.

Broad has had contentious relationships with architects over the years — in the 1980s, he hired Gehry to design a house in Brentwood only to fire him and recruit another firm to finish the job — and for this project set an aggressive construction timetable that was serially extended. In a related development, Broad has filed suit against the German company, Seele Inc., brought on to build the museum’s unusual latticed skin, saying fabrication errors added roughly $20 million to construction costs and delayed the opening by more than a year.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that the museum, which has moments of real charm, buckles under the burden of those expectations and conflicts. But in a number of places, including its surprisingly punchless facade, it shows the considerable strain of holding up that weight.

The elements of the Broad that have been most closely scrutinized or most often reworked, in fact, are the most uneven. It is only in the relative shadows — in the peripheral or easily overlooked spaces, or in the rooms added or enlarged late in the design process — that the architecture of the museum really comes to life.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the Broad museum and its eye-catching honeycomb facade, dubbed “the veil.”

When you see the Broad from a distance, what stands out is a sense of near-total enclosure — the consistent cover of the white facade, which DS+R’s Elizabeth Diller refers to as the “veil” covering the “vault” of archive and office space filling most of the second floor.

The skin recalls the 1964 American Cement Building on Wilshire Boulevard, by the L.A. firm DMJM, as well as SANAA’s 2007 New Museum in New York and a range of postwar experiments in concrete shade screens by Le Corbusier and other modernist architects.

More to the point, it helps the Broad act as a foil to Disney Hall next door. Where the concert hall is reflective and extroverted, the museum is matte and mute.




Diller Scofidio + Renfro releases first official photos of The Broad

3 September 2015 | 19 comments

This first set of official images shows Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s The Broad art museum in Los Angeles ahead of its opening later this month (+ slideshow).

The Broad first images in Los Angeles

Photograph by Warren Air

The photographs – including sets from Iwan Baan and Hufton+Crow – show the three-storey museum’s honeycomb exterior, cave-like lobby and a gallery space with a view of the latticed facade.

Photograph by Benny Chan

Photograph by Benny Chan

The 120,000-square-foot (11,150 square metre) building is located on Grand Avenue in downtown LA, across the street from Frank Gehry‘s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Set to open 20 September 2015, The Broad will contain two floors of exhibition space for the display of contemporary art. It will also serve as the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation’s lending library.

Photograph by Hufton+Crow

Photograph by Hufton + Crow

Described as a “veil and vault” concept, the design features a white exoskeleton that covers the exterior walls and roof. This wrapping – made up of 2,500 fibreglass-reinforced concrete elements – allows daylight to gently penetrate the interior without over-exposing the artwork.

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Photograph by Iwan Baan

A large opening along the front facade, referred to as an “oculus” by the architects, marks the location of a lecture hall on the second floor.

Speaking to Dezeen last year, Elizabeth Diller said she wanted the building to be strikingly different from Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Photograph by Iwan Baan

“We realised it was just useless to try to compete – there is no comparison to that building,” Diller said. “Compared to Disney Hall’s smooth and shiny exterior, which reflects light, The Broad is porous and absorptive, channelling light into the public spaces and galleries.”

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Photograph by Iwan Baan

The ground-level lobby is a cave-like space with curving walls sheathed in Venetian plaster. The galleries are located on the first and third floors, and a 105-foot-long (46 metre) escalator shuttles visitors from the lobby to the main gallery on the third floor.

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Photograph by Iwan Baan

At the centre of the building is a solid volume that serves as a storage area for the Broad’s collection. Windows punched into this “central mass” enables visitors to peer inside.

Photograph by Hufton+Crow

Photograph by Hufton + Crow

“Rather than relegate the storage to secondary status, the ‘vault’ plays a key role in shaping the museum experience from entry to exit,” said the museum. “Its heavy opaque mass is always in view, hovering midway in the building. Its carved underside shapes the lobby below, while its top surface is the floor plate of the exhibition space.”

“The vault stores the portions of the collection not on display in the galleries or on loan, but DS+R provided viewing windows so visitors can get a sense of the intensive depth of the collection and peer right into the storage holding,” the museum added.

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Photograph by Iwan Baan

DS+R won the commission in 2010 through a small invite-only competition. It worked with Gensler on the $140 million (£92 million) project.

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Photograph by Iwan Baan

The museum was founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, who also backed the Zaha Hadid-designed Edythe and Eli Broad Art Museum in Michigan, which opened in 2012.

Photograph by Hufton+Crow

Photograph by Hufton + Crow

The Broad in LA will be home to nearly 2,000 pieces of art from the couple’s collection – one of the most significant holdings of postwar and contemporary art in the world. The museum will be open six days a week with free general admission.

Photograph by Elizabeth Daniels

Photograph by Elizabeth Daniels

“We are pleased to offer free general admission so that affordability isn’t a criteria to see the art,” said Eli Broad in a statement. “We have been deeply moved by contemporary art and believe it inspires creativity and provokes and stimulates lively conversations. We hope visitors from Los Angeles and around the country and the world visit and are similarly enriched by this art.”

Photograph by Elizabeth Daniels

Photograph by Elizabeth Daniels

Journalists and a small number of public visitors, including Dezeen columnist Mimi Zeiger, were first given a preview of the The Broad in October 2014.

“The Broad is an object lesson for designers caught on the hamster wheel of producing interestingness,” said Zeiger. “The architecture succeeds in dampening the urge for entertainment, and makes the spectacular simply mundane.”

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Photograph by Iwan Baan

The museum is one of several major projects in LA signalling an architecture boom.

Photograph by Iwan Baan

Photograph by Iwan Baan

On Grand Avenue, LA resident Frank Gehry is planning a mixed-use development opposite his Walt Disney Concert Hall. He is also masterplanning an overhaul of the run-down LA River, and has just unveiled plans for a five-building complex on Sunset Strip. In Beverly Hills, Chinese firm MAD is planning its first US project – a residential block modelled on a hilltop village.

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