Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Broadly Speaking

One of the most engaging aspects of the Broad Collection, based in Los Angeles, is collectors Eli and Edythe Broad’s understanding that art is an educational commodity. After a private tour recently, highlighted by being able to view major pieces by Stephen Balkenhol, Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, among the many other exceptional works, I had an opportunity to speak with their chief curator, Joanne Heyler, who outlined their programs of support for accredited institutions. The art collection’s main objective is to make works available, providing unique opportunities for smaller institutions to display works that might otherwise be outside the scope or range of their lending practices.

A brief visit to their website, or, even better a tour of the Santa Monica space if possible, highlights the depth and breadth of the works they have acquired. A visit to the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA the following day merely illustrated this depth further.

Perhaps the most significant gift a collector can make should be the availability of their works to be publicly displayed. In my experience, collectors are extraordinarily generous in this regard, whether local, national, or international.

The Broad Foundation, with its diverse support of arts and culture, and the Broad Collection, with its ongoing emphasis of collecting in depth, stand as key models for organizations that will partner with institutions to bring quality contemporary art to very diverse audiences.

Unexpected highlights of the visit to the foundation include Pierre Huyghe’s remarkable “A Journey That Wasn’t” video installation, and Franz Ackermann’s “Home, Home Again”.

As opportunities for smaller institutions to acquire major works continues to fade, their reliance on the access to these works will obviously stem from strong relationships with organizations such as the Broad Foundation.

Special thanks to Ed Schad and Joanne Helyer for their expertise and accommodations at the Foundation.

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