The Broad Contemporary Art Museum

The Broad | 221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

For many interested in contemporary art and in the Los Angeles area, the ultra-hyped, hot new museum is the Broad. Having just opened to the public in September 2015, it has been a highly anticipated addition to the museum scene in LA, earning a place among other big names such as its Grand Avenue neighbor the MOCA Grand, the Getty Center, and LACMA on Museum Row.

To visit you have two options – reserve free advance tickets online or try your luck in the on-site standby admissions line. The museum has been absolutely flooded with success – fully booking well over 2-3 months in advance when it first opened and now typically requiring a 1 month early reservation or anywhere from a 1-3 hour wait in the standby line. I tried 3 times to reserve tickets, each time getting pushed 2 months well in advance and therefore not being able to confirm if it would fit into my schedule with school until June when I finally snagged two tickets for just 1 month in advance for me and my friend Pauline who attends UCLA.

And so, after a month of anticipation I finally made it! Some downsides: I booked our tickets for the afternoon and therefore we were too late to reserve on-site timed ticketing into Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, and the museum was a lot smaller than expected – the Kusama is located on the first floor as well as space for special feature exhibitions while the only on-view gallery space spans just the 3rd floor. I was a little disappointed that the on-view space was limited to one floor as I was expecting a comparable scale to LACMA. The architectural design is described as a “veil and vault” construction, it’s exterior textured and porous while its interior features sweeping heights and an open gallery space.

However despite it’s small area, the Broad packs some serious star power. It’s collection houses big names and spectacularly iconic pieces from Basquiat, Haring, Holzer, Kruger, Koons, Lichtenstein and Warhol. Some of my favorite pieces were:

The Horn Players (1983): Basquiat is perhaps one of my favorite artists of all times and it was so beyond incredible to see not one but 4 of his works in person for the first time. They are so much larger in person!!! It was especially touching for me to see this in person because it is actually the cover of my art history textbook.

Inflammatory Essays: Jenny Holzer has a very special place in my heart. My best friend Madeline introduced me to Holzer’s work when she discovered one of Holzer’s works on her campus (Barnard College). I soon after learned that the Stuart Art Collection on my campus (UCSD) features one of Holzer’s works (The Green Table) as well. As a self-proclaimed writer/poet Holzer’s sometimes-punchy, sometimes-provocative, sometimes-controversial all capital letter Truisms have especially held a place as a top favorite work of mine. The Inflammatory Essays are slightly longer versions of these Truisms and excerpts from my two favorites include: “FEAR IS THE MOST ELEGANT WEAPON, YOUR HANDS ARE NEVER DIRTY […] IT WILL BE DEMONSTRATED THAT NOTHING IS SAFE, SACRED OR SANE. THERE IS NO RESPITE FROM HORROR. ABSOLUTES ARE QUICKSILVER. RESULTS ARE SPECTACULAR.” and “THE GAME IS ALMOST OVER SO IT’S TIME YOU ACKNOWLEDGE ME. DO YOU WANT TO FALL NOT EVER KNOWING WHO TOOK YOU?”

Untitled (Your Body is a Battleground): This is hands down my favorite Barbara Kruger piece ever. It’s such a great embodiment of the powerful messages in Feminist art. The text alone speaks for itself, but has such a tremendous significance when you tie it with its historical context, during a period of pro-choice demonstrations that contributed to the landmark Roe v. Wade case in 1973. As the Broad states, “This image is simultaneously art and protest. Though its origin is tied to a specific moment, the power of the work lies in the timelessness of its declaration.”

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