By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
Here's why you can't. If you do the math, you find that the average date of creation for a work in this exhibition is on the cusp between 1982 and 1983, which, painful as it is for all of us to accept, was a quarter-century ago. Less than 20 percent of the works were produced in the past decade, and only one of the artists (Damien Hirst) has a career that got going after the 1980s. So even the newest of work isn't exactly news. You don't have to love all of the fresher faces in the Broad Foundation collection to at least wonder why a few of them aren't here. How about Doug Aitken, Cecily Brown, Gregory Crewdson, Pierre Huyghe, Ron Mueck or Sue Williams?
No doubt the Broad collections could still catch up a bit on their gender balance, with about 24 percent of the artists included being of the XX-chromosome pairing, but the BCAM exhibition takes a big step backward to 14 percent — a fact you just can't make up for, no matter how many Cindy Sherman photographs you hang on one wall. Hello ... Where are the likes of Vanessa Beecroft, Sue Coe and Kiki Smith, among others? And if LACMA really felt it necessary to open its new contemporary-art building with an assortment of Ellsworth Kelly paintings (which are handsome), might it not have found room for the Broads' 1965 Agnes Martin painting Desert? And how about paying a bit of respect to Elizabeth Murray, who just passed last August, and who warranted a Museum of Modern Art retrospective in 2006?
The BCAM inaugural is also as white as its walls, despite the fact that some of our foremost artists of color are represented in the Broad collection. Where are works by Ellen Gallagher, Toba Khedoori, Glenn Ligon (whose absence might be explained by the loan of works from the Broad Foundation to a currently traveling survey), Paul Pfeiffer and Kara Walker? And what about Mark Bradford, from whom the Broads just acquired a huge new work?
Moving from ethnicity to nationality, the show comprises works by one Brit; all the rest are Americans. It's just flat-out shocking that an exhibition announcing the opening of BCAM to the world, and for which organizers had at their fingertips works by major artists from Europe and other continents, several of those in large enough quantities to pull off the same sort of mini surveys on view now, fails to acknowledge an art world that lies beyond the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific. Where are works by such international artists as Stephan Balkenhol, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Andreas Gursky, William Kentridge, Sigmar Polke, Neo Rauch, Gerhard Richter, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Thomas Struth? And at a moment when a museum might want to demonstrate some relevance and resonance amid a global moment that has been described with phrases like "clash of cultures" and titles like "Jihad vs. McWorld," where in the world are the Broads' holdings of works by the New York–based Iranian artist Shirin Neshat?
Though the exhibition actually does better with its percentage of Southern California-based artists than the Broad collections themselves, there are again surprising omissions: Amy Adler, Peter Alexander, Jill Giegerich, Tim Ebner, Adrian Saxe and John Sonsini. Where is Sharon Lockhart, who was included in the 2001 Broad exhibition at LACMA, and how about Lari Pittman, whose absence from the 2001 exhibition was justifiable (perhaps) in the wake of his LACMA-organized retrospective five years earlier, but whose absence here is beyond explanation considering the Broad Foundation owns possibly the single most impressive sampling of Pittman's works on the planet? The exhibition reveals one of the odd paradoxes of provincialism that continues to be repeated by Los Angeles institutions — that in continually leaning heavily toward New York imports in a quest for cosmopolitan standing, the institutions discount as second-rate and regional the international-caliber work produced here.
It is, of course, always easy to quibble about inclusions and omissions in an exhibition, and given finite space and the laws of physics, adding some in necessitates taking others out. But knowing what's in the Broad collections, it's worth arguing that at least some works by some of the omitted artists noted are worthy of wall or floor space somewhere in BCAM's 58,000 square feet of galleries. The truth is that any of the artists enjoying large groupings in this exhibition would look better with some editing, including Jeff Koons, who lays some golden eggs but also a few gilded turds. The Pop Art offerings could have done with a serious trim. And as for Christopher Wool's 1990 untitled installation that stutters "RUN DOG RUN" across multiple panels in giant stenciled letters, the words should have been taken by the curators as an imperative as much as they are by viewers.
Visiting BCAM, you might as well be looking at some of the more expected offerings in a MOCA permanent-collection show, like "Collecting Collections," which just opened with clearly calculated timing. But the MOCA show, in part by including works from artists who are represented in the Broad collections but aren't included in the BCAM inaugural, turns out to have a more forward-thinking and international feel.
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