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Monday 01.10.11

« First Weekend Picks January 2011 | Main | PAM artist talks »

Broad isn't the issue

The New Broad Museum design by DS+R

So there has been a lot of discussion of Eli Broad's new Contemporary Museum designs by Diller Scoffidio + Renfro. Honestly, I can't see what all the fuss is about... it looks good. All the dithering seems to be over the fact that Eli Broad seems to determine the fate of LA's art and architecture world. But I find the complaint disingenuous, it isn't Broad's fault he's so influential... it's not like he's the richest or only collector in LA. Just that he seems to be the most civic minded one. As for the design I like how it will play against the Gehry and Isozaki's MOCA. It is a concise design corner in a diffuse city and yes Broad is more than a little responsible for all three. At least he is a passionate and involved collector/patron who gives back in a way that asks others to step up. If those "others" haven't done so it is hardly Broad's fault. Criticizing someone for being effective just doesn't make sense.

What do I think of the design? It reminds me a bit of DS+R's Alice Tulley Hall renovation. It isn't terribly innovative but it's better than the zigzags of Zaha Hadid's building for Broad at Michigan State. Maybe that is the point, a building is just a box to put some art in and you just build a box that matches the collection.

Update:Sorry for the lateness (I've been busy) but the New York Times review of this project mostly feels like a case of blatant Broad bashing. He's too easy a target I guess. Broad is certainly not perfect but somehow most of the criticism seems to be aimed at Broad's influence more than the actual museum. For instance the placement of mechanicals isn't that bad of a design flaw. The building IS interesting but not a masterpiece (like the Disney hall Broad made happen across the street)... it's more like a critique of the Broad Contemporary across town at LACMA. Fact remains, Broad has been personally involved in more serious buildings in LA in the last decade than New York itself has put up and I like this design better than the New Whitney's. Somehow LA and New York don't quite have good critical perspective on Broad's legacy. He's LA's MVP and New York doesn't have anyone who competes. In my book it doesn't hurt that he does a lot for Portland. I'd just like to see a better perspective and anatomy of this patron because compared to other super collectors he's so much more influential. That's important because lately institutions have been somewhat muting the eccentricities of patrons. I think eccentric and idiomatic patrons make for a better world. Just writing checks and leaving works to museums is a tad uninspiring.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 10, 2011 at 10:43 | Comments (3)


Michigan State in East Lansing Jeff....not University of Michigan in Ann Arbor....big difference really!

Posted by: sae [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 11, 2011 07:42 AM

Seems like a strange and rather flippant paraphrase of a complex issue.

Posted by: seth [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2011 05:38 PM

Yes, I think it's just easier for journalists to engage in Broad bashing these days. I believe he has a very interesting and idiomatic critique of the way institutions operate but they don't want to discuss it because Broad doesn't really need their help.

What I see is someone who takes patronage seriously and therefore idiomatically. Mayne's Caltrans building, Disney Concert Hall, and MOCA itself would not exist without his intervention, why shouldn't he make his own museum... its not like his collection is better than MOCA's so he's wisely keeping the architecture less fantastic than the disney hall and the art somewhat more Broadish than MOCA. He's kinda splitting the difference and filling in a gap. He is a developer after all. He might even be doing a bit better job than someone like Solomon Guggenheim did and way better than Hammer did for LA.

It has always been true: Nothing makes people resent you more than having the vision, conviction and ultimately the power to make things happen. PORT will do some follow up on this because the history of patronage is too important to leave it unexamined.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2011 05:04 PM

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