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The Broad Collection joins a long list of predecessors

August 24, 2010 |  8:56 am

Pittman Like You, 1995 Anne Cusack LAT

Huntington, Getty, Simon, Hammer, Crocker, Menil, Wadsworth, Phillips, Frick, Morgan, Whitney, Guggenheim, etc. -- the list of super-rich Americans who, since the mid-19th century, established museums or galleries to house their personal art collections is as familiar as the institutions that still carry their names.

Now, with the (unsurprising) news that Eli and Edythe Broad will build a museum on Grand Avenue in downtown L.A., add another name to the list. A recent Forbes magazine article breathlessly burbled about "the rise of the billionaire ego-seum," coining a clever term, but the Broad museum is more accurately described with the modest adjective, "next." It's next in a long line of such U.S. institutions.

Why is it happening now? And what could it mean for the future? I have some thoughts about both of those questions here.

--Christopher Knight

@twitter.com/KnightLAT

Photo: Lari Pittman, "Like You," 1995, Broad Collection; Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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Comments () | Archives (1)

Not a bad article CK. however, looking at the east coast robber barons collections there is a huge dfference with our West coast variety. Outside of the Norton Simon, the collections tend to be either particular periods of the past, such as the Huntington and Getty, more about studying civilizations than pure art, or weak and self involved, such as the Hammer, and now Broad. The Annenberg is the one that got away, if it had combined with the Simon it would have been a powerhouse on par with the Guggenheim.

No matter what Broad does, it will be a consumerist collection in a post consumer time, It is dated, dead, a dinosaur to self indugence, the gilded age of Excess. Times will be leaner now, and tend towards the spirituality and nature that this dead era tried to excise. LACMA is actually the only option, and does a better outreach to far more people, not being in a exlusive and sterile environment like Grand ave. It has been doing a much better job collecting, especially in japanese art, and Latin, which is our Pacific rim connection.

The other thing is to focus on the few spiritual artists out there, Anselm Kiefer chief amongst them. That is our future, and our past, art returning to its roots andtrue function in human culture. Rothko provided some of that at the Menial, though cy Twombly is self indulgence on a scale with academic painters of the 1800s such as Meinsonnier and the current posterboy over at the Getty, Gerome. Pompous false historicism and exhibitionism is shallow, and ultimately unsatisfying. Though at least they had skills.

The Rodias State park is the ultimate chance to both save a great and neglected work of art, the Watts Towers, truly named Nuestro Pueblo, Our town. Instead of enters of teh robber barons, return to the people, so all can share. And unify, as art has always done, defining who WE are, not catering to the "elite". Combine music and art, and they will come, as the music of teh americas, from blues to jaz to salsa to samba rule modern music, the combination of Europe, Africa and native peoples. With Coltrane of India also, and other have brought in the Orient. That which defines Us. Of the Soul.

The Getty and Huntington are slowly improving, moving beyond their history museum status, into focusing on us. Instead of the dead them. We need these institutions for that is where we came from, or at least some if it, there are many other cultures that have made us who we are as Americans, and getting back to modernism, which was and is the visual loanguage of a common humanity, is the way. Contempt art is dead, stillborna s it was. time to move on. Let Broad have his party house, it will be ignored, as all such insitutions of Meism have been.

Time to put aisde childish things, it is time to get back to US, before wel fracture and lose our commonality, art provides this, it must get back to its true Purpose, revealing of mind, body and soul, not decoration, games, and therapy.

art collegia delenda est

Save the Watts Towers, tear down the decadent Ivories


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