Friday, August 3, 2007

The Encyclopedic City

In the above-titled article, LA Weekly asked LACMA's Director Michael Govan [pictured here before one of Dan Flavin's works, untitled,untitled (to Robert, Joe and Michael) (1975–81). Photos by Kevin Scanlon in LA Weekly]:

The energy generated by a community of working artists — why is that important to the director of a big, encyclopedic museum?
Here is his answer:

For a thousand reasons. One, if you want to go back to ancient times, concentrations of artists and artisans are always harbingers of incredible cultural growth. All the great cultural capitals have had concentrations of artists — Paris and Moscow at the beginning of the century, New York for a thousand reasons, including people fleeing Europe. And we’re talking serious concentration here. L.A. is crawling with artists. And if you extend the boundary of what an artist is, to what’s happening in film and photography and advertising, and you think of it as creative visual arts, man, this place is rocking. There are probably more images coming out of Los Angeles, visual
images, than any place in the world.
But an encyclopedic museum, what is it? It’s a library of all these objects from all time and all places. . . . in a global world where an endless city speaks 90 languages, all of a sudden the encyclopedic museum is an interesting asset.

Oh, I love to hear that my city is poised on the edge of greatness!

The article also solicited new names for LACMA. As Govan says: ". . . Los Angeles has to be the most beautifully named city in the world. It just speaks of light."

Suggestions for new names (author Tom Christie is for El Museo de Arte de Los Angeles) should be sent to

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