February 19th, 2008
07:38 PM ET
From CNN Entertainment Producer Douglas Hyde:
In the world’s imagination, Los Angeles is primarily a pop culture town, the fount of countless movies and television shows. But Los Angeles has its high art institutions as well, from the Getty in West Los Angeles to San Marino's Huntington Library, home of Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy.”
One of L.A.’s finest, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has taken a huge leap forward with its just-opened, $60 million Broad Contemporary Art Museum. BCAM at LACMA they call it - oh, how they love their acronyms in the art world!
On Valentine’s Day I was invited to get an early look at the collection at its opening week reception. With nothing to do on the (allegedly) most romantic night of the year, I decided to say yes.
BCAM is a three-story building designed by the great architect Renzo Piano. Visitors ascend a giant red escalator outside the building to the top floor and then work their way down to the lower levels via stairs or a giant glass elevator. The night I attended, a couple people got stuck in the elevator, and BCAM visitors gathered around watching the rescue effort as if were an exhibit. I could practically see the description: “People trapped in elevator. Mixed media, 2008.”
I made my way through the collection, and although I’m far from being an expert, I was amazed at the impressive collection of modern art they had assembled. All the big postwar pop-art artists were represented: Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Roy Lichtenstein, among others. Jeff Koons had some interesting work in the gallery as well, especially his “Balloon Dog” piece and a very fun and over-the-top ceramic statue of Michael Jackson with Bubbles the Chimp. On one of the lower floors there was a giant dining room table and chairs that forced you to look at things from a different perspective.
Another piece, though, really had me scratching my head and feeling like I had taken an absurd turn into Mike Myers’ old “Sprockets” skit on “Saturday Night Live”: Mike Kelly’s “Gym Interior,” which featured two women on a video monitor doing the chicken dance.
At the end of the night I’m in the parking garage and I get a call. It’s a buddy of mine on the line and I can’t quite hear him. “What was that?” I ask, “Am I with a broad? What is this, the 1940s?” “No!” the voice on the other line says, “Are you at the Broad?” Yes. At the Broad. Not with a “broad.” On Valentine‘s Day, it was just me, Michael Jackson, Bubbles the Chimp and the chicken dancers. But you know, that’s not a bad date - and there’s always next year.
- Douglas Hyde
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