The Broad is currently showcasing its first thematic special exhibit: “Creature.” While the show, which looks at different approaches to figuration, does not highlight the best of the vast Broad art collection, “Creature” illustrates the breadth of it.
“We are all creatures: creatures of habit, of desire, of fear, and of necessity.” is noted at the exhibit entrance, The sign goes on to comment on the fact that art reframes notions about being human or the trials and tribulations of being alive (whether as a monster, animal, or artist creating a self-portrait. Many of the pieces in the exhibit feature creative ways of depicting people, particularly in uncomfortable, unpleasant situations, such as crime, the evils of war, and the ravages of illness.
“Creature” features over 50 works from The Broad’s nearly 2,000-piece collection. The installation is mostly a curated sampling of post-1970s work from the Broad holdings. It is not an exhibition that is likely to draw crowds on its own, but those wanting to visit The Broad do not need an excuse to come (tickets need to be garnered in advance for the hugely popular art museum unless one is willing to join the stand-by line and hope to get in).
There are works from more than 25 artists in “Creature.” They include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer. Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Andy Warhol. Here are some notable works in the show:
- One piece that is eye-catching is a towering bronze sculpture, “Giant Figure (Cyclops), 2011,” by Los Angeles artist Thomas Houseago. The monumental bronze piece is almost 15 feet tall. The sculpture seems to depict a movie monster. However, the work displays the Cyclops as both vulnerable and powerful, versus something scary.
- The exhibit includes a gallery of six large-scale pieces by Leon Golub, whose work is being shown at The Broad for the first time. (There are 26 of the artist’s paintings in the museum’s vast collection.) The six here show Golub’s disturbing examples of abusive power leading to horrible acts.
- Jeff Koons’ “Metallic Venus, 2010–2012,” is one of the artist’s mirror-polished stainless steel with colorful coating pieces (The Broad has several iconic Koons works on display.). This rendition of Venus, the goddess of love often depicted in classical artworks, is bright blue. The pop-art piece is featured in its own nook, which can be interpreted as giving either extra weight to the piece or a recognition that most of the other “Creature” pieces would not look appropriate displayed alongside Koons’ work.
- George Condo’s four “Self Portraits Facing Cancer 1, 2015” are works recently added to the Broad collection that are included here. The paintings were created after the artist’s recovery from cancer.
- On a lighter note, there is Alex Israel’s “Self Portrait (Selfie and Studio Floor), 2014.” This contemporary work is shaped like the artist’s profile, but includes an image of his hands holding a smartphone showing Israel’s selfie.
- Another recent acquisition depicts fictional versions of 20th Century monsters: “The Nazis.” The 1998 Piotr Uklanski collage shows 164 photos of actors playing Nazis onscreen. These embodiments of screen evil show how popular culture affects cultural memory and even glorifies abhorrent subject matter for entertainment’s sake.
“Creature” will be housed in the museum’s ground-floor galleries until March 19, 2017. ”Creature” does not present the best of The Broad collection, but walking through the whole museum illustrates the breadth of the collection, which has only 10 percent on display. Those interested in visiting The Broad should try to obtain timed tickets, which are released on the first of every month for the following month. Otherwise, there is always the standby line.
Written and Edited by Dyanne Weiss
The Broad: Creature
Los Angeles Times: ‘Creature’ is a smart exhibition at the Broad museum
Photos by Dyanne Weiss