Artist Chris Burden created, among many other things, Urban Light, an installation of 202 antique cast iron street lights outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Metropolis II, a city model inside the same museum immersed with 1,200 matchbox cars. Burden has passed away at age 69, reportedly from a battle with Melanoma. With Urban Light, created in 2008, Burden brought street light art to the masses—it's now one of the most popular pieces of public art in the world. But he was not the first person to explore this medium in Los Angeles. That title would go to artist Sheila Klein, who in 1993 built Vermonica, a sculpture of 25 varying vintage lampposts located in the parking lot of a strip mall on the corner of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. The installation still stands today. LA Weekly called it "an outdoor museum that chronicles the history of street light design while testifying to the poetry and sculptural presence of these ubiquitous objects." A precursor to Burden's Urban Light was also intended for Related Companies' Grand Avenue Project. Frank Gehry and LA art consultant Merry Norris had planned to run Burden's lights down the center of Grand Avenue about a decade ago, but as the project slowed down LACMA stepped in and bought the artist's piece. “What could I do? He had an offer that involved a lot of money," Norris told AN. Last year Burden also brought lamp art to the east coast with Light of Reason, an installation of 24 Victorian-era lampposts outside the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.
Posts tagged with "Metropolis II":
Metropolis II Los Angeles County Museum of Art 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California Ongoing Metropolis II is a kinetic sculpture by American artist Chris Burden, who is probably best known for his 1971 performance piece Shoot, in which an assistant wielding a .22 rifle shot him in the left arm. Part of LACMA’s permanent collection and on view multiple times per week, the sculpture is modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city. In it, Burden used steel beams to construct an intricate system of 18 roadways—including one six-lane freeway—and several train tracks. When set in motion, miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour. Every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars produce in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st century city.”
Metropolis II, opening at LACMA on January 14, is installation artist Chris Burden’s action-packed, raucous, optimistic view of Los Angeles sometime in the not-to-distant future. Eleven-hundred custom-made, die-cast cars, about twice the size of a Matchbox car, race through a multilevel system of 18 roadways that twist and turn and undulate amid buildings that seem vaguely familiar but are not replicas of any specific landmark (although, strangely, there is what looks like an Eiffel Tower). The cars whip along on a plastic roadway at fantastic speeds, producing an enormous din that echoes off the gallery walls like the incessant roar of real-life freeway traffic. HO-scale trains and 1930s-era trolley cars roll along tracks of their own, adding a cheerful nostalgia to the mix. Burden, who was smartly dressed in a Navy-blue suit, striped dark blue and cerulean shirt, and black loafers, said, “When you are stuck in traffic, think of this sculpture. That’s the future, a hopeful future, where cars will have an average speed of 230 miles per hour—as soon as Google gets its [automated] cars up and running.” In Burden’s joyously idealistic city, there won’t be traffic signals. Cars will cross intersections in a perfect harmony, effortlessly travelling through “the warp and woof of the city fabric.” Metropolis II—a name that invokes a fanciful makeover of the drab, congested present version of Los Angeles—is a boyish delight. Yet another in a long line of automotive utopias from the Hot Wheels that come wrapped for Christmas as committed to Walt Disney’s own autopia. It seems unfair, but you’re compelled to ask, where is the public transit that planners extol as our real future? What is the energy source for all these racing cars? And, most curious of all, where are all the people who’re supposed to be careening freely behind the wheels of all those racing cars?