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The Broad: A First Look at L.A.'s Newest Art Museum

The Broad on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. | Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
The Broad on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. | Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

On September 16, The Broad Museum opened to press and members of the national art community providing a first look at Los Angeles' newest cultural institution in the city's center. The 120,000-square foot, $140-million building, designed by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is now home to 2,000 works of founders Eli and Edythe Broad's collection, which includes contemporary art by a wide-array of world renowned artists.

Like a museum mixtape, The Broad is a compendium of contemporary art's greatest hits.

At the helm of curatorial duties is Joanne Heyler, who chose the more than 250 works by 60 artists for the museum's inaugural exhibition. The opening show displays a varied cross-section of The Broad collection, featuring blue chip art staples by the likes of Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, and Roy Lichtenstein. In addition to the expansive offerings of 20th century pop art icons, The Broad Museum showcases works from current art world luminaries like the controversial English provocateur Damien Hirst, Macarthur-prize winning New York artist Kara Walker, and Japanese art star, Takashi Murakami. Los Angeles creatives also found space in the museum's halls, which also featured Mark Bradford, Ed Ruscha, and John Baldessari.

General admission to the museum is free to visitors, which opens to the public on September 20. While there is no cost for admission, inaugural visitors are encouraged to obtain advance reservations.

At yesterday's press preview, Eli Broad, Mayor Eric Garcetti and director/chief curator Joanne Heyler spoke at the inaugural event.

The following texts are transcripts of the speeches delivered at the unveiling.

Eli Broad delivers the museum's inaugural address. | Photo: Drew Tewksbury.
Eli Broad delivers the museum's inaugural address. | Photo: Drew Tewksbury.

Eli Broad:

Edye and I are delighted to welcome you to The Broad, and we're especially delighted to welcome many of you to Los Angeles.

Today has been a long time in coming. Fifty years, actually. Collecting art is a passion and an addiction. When our walls were filled at home, we wanted to continue collecting. But more importantly, we wanted to share the works in our collection.

That's why we started The Broad Art Foundation in 1984, to create a public collection and make works available for loan to museums around the world. To date, we've made some 8,000 loans to more than 500 museums and galleries.

I am often asked why it is important for people to have access to contemporary art. The answer is simple: Contemporary art is art of our time. It reflects an important social, political and cultural commentary on the world in which we live.

When you walk through the galleries inside, you'll see Andy Warhol's paintings of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. You'll see Barbara Kruger's iconic painting, "Your Body is a Battleground," that was a symbol of the 1980s women's march on Washington. You'll see Robert Longo's charcoal drawing of police in riot gear in Ferguson, Missouri, after last year's outbreak of racial violence.

We're delighted to offer free general admission. We didn't want the price of admission to prevent anyone from seeing the art. We hope that people come from Los Angeles and around the world to enjoy the museum and our collection.

But art is only part of the story when it comes to The Broad. The other is, of course, architecture. We knew we had a challenge when we chose this site on Grand Avenue, across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall. How do you design something that doesn't clash with Frank Gehry's masterpiece but that isn't anonymous either?

We found the answer in [architecture firm] Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Under the leadership of Liz Diller, the "veil and the vault" design enabled us to do three things: have amazing public gallery space, consolidate the storage of nearly all 2,000 works in our collection in one place, and hold our own next to Disney Hall.

Installation of works by Christopher Wool and Jeff Koons in The Broad's third-floor galleries. | Photo: Bruce Damonte, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Installation of works by Christopher Wool and Jeff Koons in The Broad's third-floor galleries. | Photo: Bruce Damonte, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Without a doubt, DSR accomplished all three, and with spectacular results. I want to thank Liz Diller, Ric Scofidio, Charles Renfro and the entire DSR team for their vision and their work on this project. It was a terrific collaboration, and Edye and I could not be more pleased.

Nowhere in the world can you find such iconic architecture in just three city blocks. Grand Avenue starts with the Performing Arts High School by Wolf Prix, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels by Rafael Moneo, Disney Hall by Frank Gehry, MOCA by Arata Isozaki, and now The Broad by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Edye and I want to thank Joanne Heyler, who has been with us for more than 25 years, and has truly embraced the challenge we gave her five years ago when we said, "We want to build a museum from scratch. We want you to run it, build a staff, and we want you to make sure it is an engaging experience for all our visitors."

With the opening of The Broad, Los Angeles has become -- without question -- the contemporary art capital of the world.

We have more museum gallery space for contemporary art than any city in North America. We've got great art schools -- USC, UCLA, CalArts, Otis, Design Center College.

And Los Angeles is home to great artists -- John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, Mark Bradford, Mark Grotjahn, Catherine Opie, Lari Pittman, Sterling Ruby, the list goes on and on.

And right here on Grand Avenue, with MOCA across the street -- which I was privileged to help found in 1979 -- and now The Broad, visitors can see the most comprehensive survey of modern and contemporary art anywhere in the world.

 

Joanne Heyler, Eli Broad, Edythe Broad and Mayor Eric Garcetti. | Photo: Drew Tewksbury.
Joanne Heyler, Eli Broad, Edythe Broad and Mayor Eric Garcetti. | Photo: Drew Tewksbury.

Eric Garcetti:

Thank you, to you and Edye for being the very best of Los Angeles. A city that is the creative crossroads of the world, a place where your fingerprints collectively have transformed a downtown that used to be a place where people came to work and then leave. And now is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods not just in this country, but in this world.

I just took the walk up from L.A. Live where we're hosting some 600 delegates representing the major cities of China and Los Angeles as we address the most pressing problem of our time: global climate change. As I walked up, I had a rare half hour in my schedule, I could see how this downtown is alive -- it's a breathing, living organism. And today, this crown atop downtown is unveiled to the world. One that you have believed in, one that you could have put many different places, but you said it should come to the heart of the city that is the cultural heart of a great country. A city that reflects the world as it is today, and a city that reflects this nation as it will be tomorrow, that is Los Angeles.

You and Edye have invested in L.A.'s future and encourage our city to be a better version of itself. You're champions of education, you're luminaries of philanthropy, supporters of cutting edge medical research, you've improved the quality of our lives and extended our lives, making sure that from birth to our last days that the quality of our life reflects the creativity and the hopes of humanity. As Eli said just a few years ago, as he stood in front of MOCA and declared that Los Angeles was the contemporary art capital of the world. Something that when I campaigned for mayor, I said over and over, and my friends from New York said like, "No, it can't be Los Angeles." Now I think very few will dispute that the best creators are here, that the forces keep coming here, through Pacific Standard Time and other convenings. We actually do have an art scene that isn't just marking history, it is making history and today that is what you have done. Today we have an opportunity to show the world how right you were when you made that statement.

Installation of works by Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and Sherrie Levine in The Broad's third-floor galleries. | Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Installation of works by Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and Sherrie Levine in The Broad's third-floor galleries. | Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

I also want to congratulate Joanne on her short 25 years working together with the Broads, it goes by you know in a blink, but the herculean effort to orchestrate this and to do this, I've seen it in each stage. This is actually the first time I'll see it with art inside -- but to see each piece is like watching a child grow up. This is one of the world's most important contemporary art collections. Its content is a testament to both of your dedication. Edye may have sparked your eye for art Eli, but she couldn't have given you the heart that you have for this city, one in which many people who are successful in this city -- and certainly there are plenty of people with that title -- have never given back in the way that both of you have.

To Liz, this city is blessed to have your revolutionary eye and mold the form of this museum. I've loved this from the beginning to the end, I've love it from the inside to the out, and I hope that people get into the guts of this building, because it takes a few visits to understand it and feel how it both reflects a place where we always have a beautiful face to the world -- "we're Los Angeles." But also we have deeper meaning the more you get to know us, and the more you get to know the city, and I think this museum very much reflects that.

Los Angeles is the right home for The Broad, downtown is the right home for The Broad, not because of Hollywood's glitz or glamour, but because this city is thriving. We are nurturing artist and architects, entrepreneurs and innovators, darers and do-ers. Just look around at all the construction and investment happening here. We have the Wilshire-Grand which will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi, coming up as we speak, and the expansion of our rail lines. I love going to D.C. because I steal more money for Los Angeles than any other city in America -- three billion and counting. My fellow mayors are jealous but I said it's because we taxed ourselves first, and we're taking the car capital of America and changing into the public transportation capital of America, and we look forward to a bold bridge over to The Broad here with the MTA.

And finally, this won't just draw visitors. From children in South Los Angeles, from students who are here downtown, but it will also bring people from distant shores to Los Angeles, who want to come see what is happening in Los Angeles, and who want to see this museum. Eli and I certainly share a vision of cultural tourism that is unmatched anywhere in the world. I set a bold goal for visitors in this city by 2020 to have 50 million visitors. This year, the Pacific Rim overtook the Atlantic as the most important air-trafficked corridor in the world. It used to be that New York to London was the most busy airport, but now it's LAX to Beijing. We have 48 flights just to China a year alone and welcomed 800,000 Chinese visitors here nearly last year. As we continue to grow and bring people from Topeka or from Thailand to here, we can see and show that this isn't just a place where you'll just see something you've never seen before. It's a place that feels like home. A place that sounds like, smells like, tastes like home because we have so many cultures that are here. And it is a true testament to Eli and Edye's generosity that this world-class museum will represent our values and it will be free to the public.

So to my longtime friends, congratulations! I couldn't be more proud to be your mayor. I couldn't be prouder to be mayor of this town today as we open up our boldest, new articulation of who we are and what we are and why we are. We are Los Angeles and we are proud. Congratulations.

Curator Joanne Heyler. | Photo: Drew Tewksbury.
Curator Joanne Heyler. | Photo: Drew Tewksbury.

Joanne Heyler:

There's a love of Los Angeles at the heart of this new museum.

But there's also something else.

At the core of The Broad, it's all about the collection. This dynamic collection of nearly 2,000 artworks by more than 200 artists, continues to grow and evolve. It's a reflection of Eli and Edye's exceptionally deep level of dedication to art over many decades.

This collection has been seen in fragments over the years at museums and galleries all around the world through our lending program and through a handful of exhibitions. But we have never been able to show it as comprehensively as we can at The Broad. As you'll soon see, over 250 works are on view, by more than 60 artists, in two floors of gallery space.

One of the things you'll notice, is that the collection shows the Broads' sustained dedication to artists, year after year and decade after decade. They've probably visited hundreds of artist's studios and galleries -- significant collections aren't built overnight, and this one was almost a half century in the making in total.

You'll also see that we have acquired deep concentrations of art from the '50s and '60s, particularly Pop art. These concentrations were woven into the collection about 20 years ago, as a way of establishing conceptual and historic roots, and they now offer Los Angeles audiences a unique opportunity to experience these rare masterworks, free of charge.

For this very first installation of the collection at The Broad, I took a straightforward, wide-lens, chronological approach. The main sky-lit galleries on the third floor begin with works by artists including Jasper Johns, Sam Francis, Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg, as well as classic Pop works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

From there, the installation moves into a period that was a significant launch pad for the collection: the New York art world of the 1980s. This is where you see remarkable examples of work by artists including Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jeff Koons. The installation then touches on the topics and themes that preoccupied artists in the 1990s with works by Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, and Andreas Gursky, among others.

"Infinity Mirrored Room" by Yayoi Kusama. | Photo: Courtesy of The Broad.
"Infinity Mirrored Room" by Yayoi Kusama. | Photo: Courtesy of The Broad.

We add an average of one work per week to the collection, and our exhibition is premiering in L.A. some major installations. To name just two, you'll find in the first floor galleries "Infinity Mirrored Room" by Yayoi Kusama, and the poignant and masterful immersive video work The Visitors by Icelandic artist, Ragnar Kjartansson. Elsewhere you'll find recent paintings by Julie Mehretu, including the vast painting titled "Cairo" that greets you in the third-floor entrance gallery, and many, many other works never seen before in L.A.

Los Angeles's globally renowned, growing art scene also reveals itself throughout the installation with early works by Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari; recent pieces by Mark Bradford, Sharon Lockhart, Lari Pittman, and Mark Grotjahn; a super-sized sculpture titled "Under the Table" by Robert Therrien; a mordant suspended anti-war sculpture titled "Bateau de Guerre" by the late Chris Burden; and late '80s and '90s works by Mike Kelley and Charlie Ray.

You will see the ongoing critique of narrative and figuration in art; the continuing expansion of artistic practice still influenced by Marcel Duchamp; and the commitment of so many contemporary artists to social and political themes -- an emphasis that Eli and Edye have not only welcomed in the art they have collected, but that is reflected in their education, and scientific and medical research philanthropy.

What we offer, in this inaugural exhibition, is wide-ranging but also highly personal. It is open-ended -- in the sense of representing an evolving collection. And it is only the first of the rotating installations we will present.

The Broad is free general admission, but we offer far more than that. Visitors will find a range of ways to engage with the art at their own pace as much or as little as they wish. And by the way, we do expect a lot of visitors: as of today people have booked over 85,000 free tickets in advance. We've hired and trained floor staff to answer detailed questions about the collection, our museum building and even about the neighborhood. We've created a mobile app which fully launch this Sunday but is available today in a preview version. It contains four audio tours -- one candid and irreverent tour featuring collection artists talking about other artists' works; one family tour with great kids content that is narrated by actor, director and education advocate LeVar Burton; an architectural tour of the building, and a collection highlights tour.

In addition, keep a lookout for announcements later this fall about more public programming and about temporary exhibitions that we will offer in 2016. We will be stimulating fresh dialogue around the collection over the coming months inside our galleries as well as off site, with fascinating speakers, leaders and performers from many different fields including music and film.

Now you know what I think is at the heart of The Broad. The collection, and connecting people with it.

 

Related Reading:

 

Inside the Skeleton of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum

Artbound ventured into the bones of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum for a behind-the-scenes look at the museum in-progress.

The Un-Private Collection: Kara Walker and Ava DuVernay

As part of The Broad Museum's The Un-Private Collection, filmmaker Ava DuVernay recently spoke with artist Kara Walker about her artwork and recent sugar Sphinx sculpture, "A Subtlety."

The Un-Private Collection: Takashi Murakami and Pico Iyer

Writer and cultural philosopher Pico Iyer sits down with renowned artist Takashi Murakami to discuss his influences, navigating between East and West, and his new film "Jellyfish Eyes."

The Un-Private Collection: Steve Martin and Eric Fischl

Artist Eric Fischl and comedian Steve Martin discussed Fischl's early career in Southern California on the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

The Un-Private Collection: John Currin and James Cuno

James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, speaks with artist John Currin about how traditional portraiture influenced Currin's modern interpretation of the form.

 


 

The Broad's lobby with escalator. | Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
The Broad's lobby with escalator. | Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
The Broad's third-floor galleries with skylights and interior veil. | Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
The Broad's third-floor galleries with skylights and interior veil. | Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Installation of Robert Therrien's "Under the Table," 1994 in The Broad's third-floor galleries. | Photo: Elizabeth Daniels, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Installation of Robert Therrien's "Under the Table," 1994 in The Broad's third-floor galleries. | Photo: Elizabeth Daniels, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
"Untitled" by Jean-Michel Basquiat. | Photo: Courtesy of The Broad.
"Untitled" by Jean-Michel Basquiat. | Photo: Courtesy of The Broad.
Installation of works by Neo Rauch, Robert Longo and Mark Bradford in The Broad's first-floor galleries. | Photo: Bruce Damonte, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Installation of works by Neo Rauch, Robert Longo and Mark Bradford in The Broad's first-floor galleries. | Photo: Bruce Damonte, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
"Rabbit" by Jeff Koons. | Photo: Courtesy of The Broad.
"Rabbit" by Jeff Koons. | Photo: Courtesy of The Broad.
"I... I'm sorry" by Roy Lichtenstein. | Photo: Courtesy of The Broad.
"I... I'm sorry" by Roy Lichtenstein. | Photo: Courtesy of The Broad.

 

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