Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Art Museum: Just One Problem - - -

"Broad Collection building design is upside-down"
Christopher Knight, Culture Monster, Los Angeles Times blog (August 26, 2010)

"The dynamic 2006 building designed for Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art contains one serious flaw. Unfortunately, it appears that architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who designed the ICA, are about to repeat the error in the museum building they're now designing for the Broad Collection.

"The mistake: In Boston, it's a long schlep from the front door to the art galleries.

"As you can readily see in the ICA photograph shown here, the art is upstairs inside that illuminated, translucent box. The ground floor is an entry lobby with an information desk, ticketing booth, shop and cafe, with offices and work space above, plus a big elevator to haul you upstairs. The main event, the reason the building was constructed and a visitor has arrived -- the art -- is tucked away out of sight.

"Inside the ICA front door there is an 'art wall,' where a different artist is annually commissioned to install a piece. As with most lobby decor, it has the unfortunate feel of an afterthought...."

(Photos from Diller Scofidio + Renfro, ICA Boston, via Culture Monster, Los Angeles Times blog, used w/o permission.)

'High' Culture?

The Lemming's heard of a modern art piece that was hung upside-down for a long time before someone noticed. Putting a whole building wrong-side-up, now: that's impressive.

I thought maybe the art displays were put above street level to drum into museum visitors the idea that this was "high" art.

Turns out, there's another possible explanation:

"...As in Boston, the bad idea of putting the galleries upstairs is likely driven by a desire to take advantage of overhead natural light. That's an anachronism that has more to do with romantic fantasy than with actual works of contemporary art...."
(Culture Monster)

Could be: I've gotten the impression that quite a lot of avant-garde, forward-looking, frightfully cultured art patrons are just a tad old-fashioned under the veneer. Which is another topic.

Still: It's a cool-looking building, and I'm pretty sure that someone worked out the stress loads on that cantilevered upper floor. The arts crowd of Los Angeles should have a nifty-looking building to talk about for years to come. Or an awkward nuisance of an art museum to complain about - which might be almost as much fun.

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