The Broad, the contemporary art museum built to house the 2,000-piece collection acquired over decades by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and his wife, Edye, includes works by two prominent Japanese artists.
The museum, which was built at a cost of $140 million, opened its doors on Sept. 20. It is located at 221 S. Grand Ave.
The inaugural installation features a predominantly chronological selection of masterworks from the Broad collections. The installation begins on the third floor with works by major artists who came to prominence in the 1950s, including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly. The Pop art of the 1960s — an area of great depth in the collections — is represented through works by Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol, among others.
Moving into the 1980s, the installation presents a rich concentration of works by artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger, and Jeff Koons. The installation continues on the first floor through the present, with works including a monumental, immersive, nine-screen video piece by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, and an 82-foot-long painting by Takashi Murakami.
“Takashi Murakami is often compared to Andy Warhol for the influence of his work not only within the art world, but also on popular culture,” said Joanne Hayler, founding director of The Broad. “…His super flat style has made its way into collaborations with Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and famously with fashion house Louis Vuitton and designer Marc Jacobs. He launched a production company, Kaikai Kiki, which among many other things, manages and promotes lesser-known artists.
“A dazzling array of business as art initiatives is underpinned by his studio art practice and Takashi’s deep interests, which range from 19th-century Japanese painting to Buddhism, anime and post-war social politics.”
Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room — The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display, will be featured in the inaugural installation.
This experiential artwork on the museum’s first floor has limited capacity, accommodating one visitor at a time for approximately 45 seconds, and will require a separate free timed ticket, which general admission ticket holders will be able to reserve after arrival at the museum.
Kusama paints what she sees, as a still-life painter would paint a bowl of fruit. From an early age, she was has prone to hallucinations due to mental illness, vivid experiences of the world distorted and enhanced by colors and shapes. Her work resides somewhere between representation and abstraction: for the artist, representation, and for everyone else, abstraction.
Throughout the 1960s and early ’70s, Kusama’s paintings and performances mirrored an age where vision was constantly challenged and new vistas consistently sought. At various points, she was espoused by artists across a variety of formats and theoretical concerns, including pop, minimalism, and surrealism. Her work appealed to New York’s turbulent political and social environment. Kusama staged multiple fully nude happenings across the city to protest the war in Vietnam, economic disparity and the excesses of Wall Street, and the hierarchy and gender inequality of museums. At the same time, her visions matched the transcendental aspirations of psychedelic drugs and mind-altering spiritual movements of hippie culture.
Ultimately, it was in installation where Kusama found a way to best express the impact of her interior mind on her external environment. Kusama’s nets became inhabitable environments. “Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” (2013) is just such an inhabitable Kusama world.
The Broad is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Doors open at 10 a.m. on weekends, closing at 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and 6 p.m. on Sundays. The museum will be closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For more information, call (213) 232-620 or visit www.thebroad.org.