Leo's Rabbit likes looking at the beautiful pictures, sculptures, posters and art in general, so today he decided to visit The Broad, a contemporary art museum in the heart of Los Angeles. He was pleasantly surprised to find out that the entry is free (he didn't have to spend his carrots :-)), however advance booking was required, so he secured his entry couple of days in advance.
On his arrival, Rabbit was very impressed by the architecture of The Broad. He read that the museum was designed by world-renowned architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) in collaboration with Gensler. Although they are not a firm of famous rabbits and their names didn't sound familiar to our small-town Rabbit, he thought that they did an excellent job. The building design is based on a concept entitled 'the veil and the vault'. 'The veil' is a porous envelope that wraps the whole building, filtering and transmitting daylight to the indoor space. 'The vault' is a concrete body which forms the core of the building, dedicated to artworks storage, laboratories, curatorial spaces and offices. The 'veil' is made of 2,500 fiberglass-reiforced concrete panels and 650 tons of steel. 36 million pounds of concrete make up the 'vault'. The vault walls are made of Venetian plaster. Leo's Rabbit would not hesitate to call this impressive building an architectural masterpiece. If you don't trust Rabbit's judgement (well... I wouldn't be surprised), have a look yourself :-)
Leo's Rabbit entered the building with excitement and anticipation, eager to see one of the most prominent collections of postwar and contemporary art worldwide with over 2,000 works of art homed at The Broad. The first artwork he encountered was a massive eighty-foot-long painting by Takashi Murakami from Japan titled ‘In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow'; a bit scary title, but a colourful and busy theme. For a very small Rabbit, just the size of the artwork was impressive, but he also liked the details and an interesting pop art style of the painting. He didn't understand the artistic concept however and only by reading the description, he learned that this artwork reflects on the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.
Rabbit hopped around the museum (he enjoyed beautifully polished and shiny floors - sheer joy for his paws :-) ) - he admired some of the beautiful examples of the artwork on display and was pleased to look at them, but he also found many others too complex (or too simple) for his taste. He couldn't comprehend why, for instance, a very basic painting containing two coloured rectangles found its way to the famous gallery? He enquired about Ellsworth Kelly, the author of the 'Blue Red' painting that puzzled Leo's Rabbit, and he was told that 'bold and contrasting colours free of gestural brushstrokes or recognisable imagery, encourage a kind of silent encounter, or bodily participation by the viewer with the artwork'. Hmm... that explanation left our little Rabbit even more confused.
He couldn't neither understand why so many people are fascinated by Andy Warhol's paintings and are willing to pay millions of dollars for his artworks. Yes, Rabbit appreciates Mr Warhol's creativity bringing the imagery and techniques of mass commercialism into fine arts and his contribution to the birth of a new visual art movement, pop art, but are the paintings pleasant to look at? Leo's Rabbit stood in front of the famous 'Campbell's Soup Cans' painting and wondered if he would enjoy having this painting in his house. Well, his sincere answer would be 'not really'. If he was American, he would have rather preferred a painting titled Flag by Jasper Johns. But as for a British Rabbit, that wouldn't be right neither.
Rabbit was intrigued by an enormous painting by a British artist, Jenny Saville showing, in an unflinching manner, a body of an obese lady who seems to be self-consciously sizing herself. He felt a bit sorry for her (a long carrot diet ahead of her...), a bit taken aback, scared and intimidated by her size. He compared her with the ideal humans presented in the images of mass media and she just did not fit in. Or did she? He left a bit confused wondering for himself about all the conventions and norms imposed on us by the society and mass media; how deeply they are embedded in our minds...
Leo's Rabbit spent couple of hours wandering around the museum and came across many other interesting paintings. He liked 'Red Room' by Keith Haring showing a woman at leisure, leaning back and relaxing. The scene is not presented however in a calm or relaxing manner, but instead linear dark shapes and contrasting bright red colour made our little Rabbit feel energetic and somehow unsettled. 'Very curious', thought Rabbit.
An expressive poster by Barbara Kruger entitled 'Your Body is a Battleground' caught Rabbit's eye. He learned that this artwork was created for the Women’s March on Washington in support of reproductive freedom. The woman’s face, disembodied, split in positive and negative exposures, and obscured by text, marks a stark divide. He liked this image - an art and a protest in the same time.
The 'Untitled' painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat showing the skull scared little Rabbit. He was told that this is an autobiographical self-portrait of the artist. Well, he certainly wouldn't like to come across the author, so he fearfully looked over his shoulder and quickly proceeded to the next exhibit.
The highlight of Rabbit's day at The Broad came at the end when he visited an amazing installation created by Yayoi Kusama called Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years. It was literally a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display. It was different from anything he ever seen before and even better than the whole field of cabbage. Our small-town Rabbit was very impressed and the view almost took his breath away. He stood still on the little island on the water with his ears up and his eyes wide open, and wherever he looked, he could see himself from different angles in endless mirrors in the sea of tiny dazzling lights.
He learned that since the 1960s, Yayoi Kusama has been creating Infinity Mirrored Rooms that provoke a sense of boundlessness and transcendence through extreme repetition. Kusama’s work is an expression of her life, providing insight into the many social and political contexts of her long career. Through her artwork, Kusama, a self-proclaimed ‘obsessional artist’, offers an unusual glimpse into the workings of a mind that is seldom quiet. The strength and appeal of her work goes beyond stylistic design; Kusama confronts the immensity of reality by searching at once for infinitude and oblivion. She is a very versatile artist. Her multidisciplinary art includes painting, performance, installation, writing, film, fashion, design, and architectural interventions. Moving between modes of working, Kusama has escaped associations to specific art movements, and instead she has developed her own unique path. Rabbit certainly enjoyed exploring that path :-)
All in all, Leo's Rabbit was pleased with his visit to The Broad and he found many paintings and artwork interesting and pleasing to his eyes. In numerous cases however, he did not understand the artistic concept and even did not like some highly regarded artwork. Hmm... he would not put it on display in his house or even tool shed. He thought that all this contemporary art often is about coming up with a very clever interpretation for not so pretty artwork and making a viewer believe that there is a deeper meaning to it. And then there is a bunch of snobs (rabbits and people) who don't really see any deeper meaning, but because they want to be cool, contemporary, arty and all of that, they pretend that they understand the artistic concept presented. Well... that's just a view of one well grounded Rabbit.
Leo's Rabbit 'lives' in my handbag and he travels with us everywhere we go. He has pictures taken at various locations, tourist attractions and places we visit. As a part of this blog we will describe Leo's Rabbit Travels to share our personal experiences from these visits. Hopefully couple of people (apart from us :-) ) will find it interesting and may even feel encouraged to visit one of Rabbit's destinations.