I don't frequent museums. And when I do check one out, it's usually a museum of natural history or a science center. But The Broad - a contemporary art museum - has been all the rage here in L.A. since it opened back in September, so I had to check out what all the fuss was about.
I reserved (free!) tickets for the weekend that my boyfriend's parents were in town, so the museum became what we planned our Sunday activities around. As someone who typically finds it difficult to appreciate "contemporary" art, I was surprisingly able to connect with many of the exhibits and pieces - so many, in fact, I found it difficult to narrow down my favorites.* So here's a list of eight of my favorites, because why not eight? Eight's a great number.
*Note: I am an amateur art observer. Please take this "review" with several grains of salt.
1. Ragnar Kjartansson's "The Visitors" - Imagine walking through black velvet curtains into a room with nine television screens, each displaying a video recording of a musician on a different instrument. On one screen, there's a woman in a thin white dress playing the cello at the foot of a victorian-era bed. On another screen, a man plays guitar in a full, murky, calw-footed bathtub. On another we see the profile of a man at a piano exhaling cigar smoke between chords. Each person in each frame sits in front of a microphone and wears headphones. And all at once, all of the musicians in different rooms begin playing the same song - and harmonies come through in crescendos and voices pull through the chorus to be heard for short moments. Each of the nine screens has a speaker emitting the audio of that musician, so as you move around the room, the way you experience the song can completely change. Between the sounds, musicality and the aesthetics of the plantation-style home with turn-of-the-century decor, this exhibit was an easy top spot for me.
2. Yayoi Kusama's "infinity Mirrored Room" - This immersive art experience is popular - so popular, in fact, that guests have to reserve a spot in line just to see the exhibit. We luckily waited in the "no show/cancellation" line for long enough that we were able to squeeze in before the museum closed. Once I was inside the room, I wasn't surprised by its fame. The room can only fit two or three people in at a time, as there's only a small peninsula of floor that extends from the door out into a small, square pool of water. All four walls and the ceiling are made entirely of mirrors, and the liquid floors adds a sixth wall of reflection. In this room of infinity there's string lights hanging from the ceiling, which creates what I called "the galaxy effect." In this room you see yourself in the middle of everything, and nothing. Guests are only allowed in the room for 30 seconds, so I purposefully took no photos so I could fully experience the exhibit. You'll just have to go check it out for yourself!
3. John Currin's "Old Couple" - I saw five of John Currin's pieces on display at the broad, and while I loved all of them (he pokes fun of the human physique and societal "beauty" in a really fun way), his piece called "Old Couple" was my favorite. He shows us an old couple, still so in love - him proud to have her on his arm, her glad to still have the same shoulder to lean on - and I couldn't help but admire this fictional relationship. Few pieces of art have made me feel truly happy while viewing it, but this one did just that.
4. Charles Ray's "All My Clothes" - In this series of 16 photos, an artist/photographer displays 16 different outfits, presumably "all his clothes." The series was assembled in 1973, so what made the piece so fun to me was admiring the fashions of the times. He rocks flared jeans and multiple flannels, displays his one, thick tie and his three different pairs of shoes - boat shoes, sneakers and cold weather boots. Aside from the fashion, you've gotta admire his simplicity.
5. Jeff Koons' "Michael Jackson & Bubbles" - Upon first glance, I didn't realize this was a statue of Michael Jackson. My amusement with this sculpture only increased once I did. I think I actually audibly said, "Holy crap, is that a porcelain statue of Michael Jackson holding a monkey?" And if art makes you say something like that, it must be pretty good. I only have one response to my earlier question - that is an ape, not a monkey, Mandi, you know this.
6. Robert Therrien's "Under the Table" - Also one of the most popular exhibits currently on display at The Broad. I mean, come on - you can pretend you're super small. I look like a giddy little kid in that photo. And the title is so punny!
7. Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Blue)" - If you're taking note, yes, Jeff Koons has quite a few popular pieces of art on display at The Broad. "Balloon Dog" (photo featured above) has become a symbol of the museum in itself, as it's one of the most easily recognizable pieces of art. I think it speaks to the child in all of us, weather it be because the sculpture itself is an over-sized balloon animal, or because the reflective material doubles as a fun house-esque mirror. Or both?
8. Glenn Ligon's "Double America 2" - It took me several tries to snap a photo in which both of the "Americas" were illuminated. The neon sculpture flickers on and off frequently and continuously, sometimes with both words lit, sometimes with neither. This piece was definitely a crowd favorite as I almost had to wait in line to get a centered shot - it's #gramworthy, for sure.
I have to say, visiting The Broad was a great option for a "different" L.A. activity, and I loved that Sam's parents got to see a unique part of the city. The building itself is a work of art, and the art within the building is quite unlike most art I've seen. If you're planning on being in the area and would like to visit, go to The Broad's website to reserve tickets!