As an art student, I find the art that we learn about in class very interesting because it is art that I would never be interested in, but yet after learning the details I enjoy them. Although I don’t mind learning art through power points, I find physically looking at art more enjoyable. Getting the whole experience of physical artwork is a more exciting way to learn and catches my interest more, which is why I was so excited to visit a new museum and look at some art. For this assignment I decided to go to the LACMA museum. I have been to many museums before, but I have not visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art yet so I was very excited. I find a lot of art very fascinating, but I am more interested in the more contemporary and modern arts. I am a design major so I was drawn to the sculptural art pieces that were displayed outside the building. One piece in particular that I found very beautiful and fascinating was an outside display entitled “Urban Light”.
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“Urban Light” was made by an artist by the name of Chris Burden in 2008, which makes this sculpture very recent and present. This piece of art is displayed under the contemporary art department. Contemporary art is known as art produced at this present point in time or art produced since World War II. Two hundred and two restored cast iron and street lamps make this magnificent sculpture. The cast iron lamps once lit the streets of Los Angeles. Despite initial appearances, the arrangement is not a perfect grid. Depending on where the viewer stands, the lamps arrange themselves in different angles and arrays. Burden bought one of these lamps at the Rose bowl flea market, and soon collecting and restoring streetlights became an obsession. He painted them all the same neutral gray, in order to draw the eye to all the different varieties of cast iron decoration. The street lamps are symbols of a civilized and sophisticated city. One that is safe after dark and beautiful to behold. The lights all still work and are powered by solar energy. They are switched on every night at dusk until about ten at night. The sculpture is meant to transform into a building with a roof of light.
The way that this sculpture is displayed is one of the main reasons why I like it the most. The streetlights stand very tall and close together, which makes the sculpture look very strong and bold. When all the lights are lit up, it looks very beautiful and bright. All the lamps are displayed almost as if you are walking down the streets of Los Angeles. After reading the description of how it’s meant to look as if a building with a roof of lights, I can definitely experience that. I love how the lamps are leveled. They are shorter at the ends and then grow taller and taller as they get towards the center. That levitation makes the sculpture look even more like a house of lights and it makes me want to walk into the sculpture. The way that it is displayed makes it a perfect outside sculpture. They line up and parallel against the palm trees in the background very nicely.
The posts of the street lamps are very tall and skinny, while the trunks of the palm trees are tall and skinny. The posts and trunks compliment each other perfectly. I think that if different trees with thicker trunks were displayed instead, it would not look so elegant. The palm trees add a more elegant and sophisticated vibe. I also like how the color pallet is very neutral. The cool colors of the gray lampposts, against all the bright yellow lamps of light clash nicely. It almost looks heavenly. The overall experience while viewing this art piece was very heavenly and calm. I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed by all the lights, but instead felt very relaxed and inspired.
After thinking really hard about all of the pieces of art that we have covered in class so far I can’t really think of one that would compare to “Urban Lights”. This sculpture is a lot different than the sculptures that we have learned in class, mainly because it is contemporary. The sculptures that we covered in class were more of European art and mythological sculptures that had a lot of mythology and biblical meaning. They had a more detailed technique and description. This sculpture seems like it was made for a more visual reason versus a spiritual reason.
It was made to show the beauty in taking everyday street items and creating them into something amazing. If I had to absolutely compare “Urban Lights’ to a painting learned in class, I would choose Vincent Van Gogh’s painting entitled “Starry Night”. At night “Urban Lights” kind of takes on the beauty of “Starry Night”. The lights in both paintings are the main focus of both art pieces; the lights of the lamps versus the lights of the stars.
Over all, I really enjoyed visiting this museum. I liked it because I was able to experience more tangible art that I not only was able to physically see, but art I was also interested in. Most museums carry mostly ancient art and not so much present art. I am very pleased I got to analyze a piece of art that was my choice because it made the assignment more intriguing. I am glad that I wasn’t limited and tied down to a specific time frame that I wasn’t so much interested in. I never took the time to analyze the public display of art and think of the experience of it because I never even thought about it. This assignment helped me appreciate all the details of art pieces and gave me a sense of knowledge of how to analyze them.