Ed Patuto, director of audience engagement for The Broad, the buzziest new museum of the year, explains why downtown Los Angeles is the destination for contemporary art today.
“Angelenos still have a hard time hearing that Downtown L.A. (known locally as DTLA) is one of the coolest places in the world but it really is. The art scene here really is thriving.
I feel like what really sets L.A.’s art world apart from others in the US is that it still has an edge to it—unlike, in my opinion, New York or San Francisco today. That edge fuels us here and motivates us to have an impact on the city. DTLA, given its ethnic and economic diversity, has a lot of opportunities for artists to do work that affects change. For instance, it says a lot about the community that one of its most beloved arts institutions, Inner-City Arts, is in the heart of Skid Row.
And there really isn’t this much contemporary architecture anywhere else in the world: you have the MoCA, the Gehry-designed Disney Hall, the postmodern Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels from Pritzker-winner Rafael Moneo, and, now, The Broad, which is the culmination of 40 years of work and is seen by many locals as the tipping for the neighborhood.
The building was designed by Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofido + Renfro. This museum is about a private collection that’s now being displayed publicly and the design reflects that in the storage vaults, easily one of the most interesting features of the space. These vaults hold about 90 percent of the collection and are actually visible to visitors. There are two windows in the central staircase that you can peek into. I don’t really know anywhere else that has done this. It makes the collection feel very present.
The Broads are still aggressively collecting and about 50 new works have just come into the collection. Artists who the family has their eye on right now include Basquiat, Warhol, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman—they have almost everything she’s ever done—Barbara Kruger, Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg.
With the Broad and the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (the other big contemporary art museum you can’t miss when here) you really do have two of the greatest collections of modern art anywhere in the world, a literal stone’s throw from each other.”