Saturday, March 28, 2009


A little over a year ago, the new Broad Contemporary Art Museum opened on the LA County Museum of Art campus, transforming it completely. I remember at the time, that a giant crane dangling a locomotive that would actually spout steam on the hour had been planned as an in situ art piece by Jeff Koons, but there had been some delay so that piece wasn't ready for the grand opening. Frankly, I just thought it sounded sort of dangerous, but if the engineers could find a way to ensure that the train stayed suspended in the air rather than falling onto the heads of unsuspecting art lovers, well then, I guess that would be fine; as an art concept I was sort of indifferent to it.

But I just learned from Art for a Change that indeed it was engineering that caused the hold-up, for which I'm grateful. If this puppy is really going to happen, I want it to be safe! What I also learned from Art for a Change is that the price tag on this piece of art is $25 million. Wow. It would be the most expensive single piece ever commissioned by a museum. Again, wow. And especially right now. A third time, wow.

Vallen's blog post is fairly vitriolic, but his point is still taken: that's a whole lotta dough to be shelling out for one piece right now as other museums close their doors or lay off their staff. Maybe Train, as the piece is entitled, is actually the Little Engine That Shouldn't.

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