Wednesday, February 20, 2008

BCAM's Undeserved Controversy

Despite all the backlash, it ain't bad at all. On the contrary.
LACMA's new Broad Contemporary Art Museum opened earlier this month, to much contrasted fanfare. "Hello...Wrong," writes Christopher Miles in LAWeekly about BCAM's inaugural show. LAT's architectural critic Chirstopher Hawthorne is circumspect about it, too. The East Coasters are even harsher: "Art Museum Mixes Pomp and Hint of Pop," writes the NYT. "Rounding up the usual Suspects," writes the NYT again. More pros/cons via CurbedLA.

What's all that backlash for? We went to BCAM with mixed feelings after reading all those incendiary reviews -- and came out two hours later totally elated. This new museum is great. Repeat: great. Sure, you have the usual suspects, but those "suspects" define the fabric of L.A.'s art scene and its influences -- whether it's Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst, Crhis Burden, Leon Golub, Jean-Michel Basquiat, ... or Andy Warhol himself.

The works are representative of the individual artists' legacy. They are skillfully displayed, and synergized by a building which may not be Renzo Piano's best, or a starchitect's dogma, but which works for its purpose and within the mid-Wilshire corridor. The whole experience makes you want to call those East Coast and other Cassandras bigoted snubs.

The only backlash we felt was LACMA's typical stroppy attitude towards its visitors. They wouldn't even allow us to take pictures of the building, or take notes about the works, and were pretty rough about it. In "LACMA", there is a "C" that stands for County: get it guys? No, they don't, and they never will. Which is why we've stopped being members years ago, and prefer to sponsor other regional venues that have a positive, proactive attitude towards art lovers. And that's also why we're in awe at this photo snapped by Sundogg for LAist inside the new BCAM's Jeff Koons gallery, presumably on the sly. Kudos, Sundogg. Profile of LACMA's new director Michael Govan's in the WSJ.
[edit 02/24/08: Sunday Times praises BCMA/L.A.+ LAist comments]
[edit 03/10/08: LACMA’s broad and winding road in art ltd.]
9edit 06/04/08: Armed guards at BCAM in LAT]
photo Sundogg vis LAist