Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 4/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
While controversy swirls around the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and its latest expansion, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, a separate art installation has quietly sprung up outside. Standing like sentries in front of the 60,000-square-foot structure are 202 streetlamps. Together, they make up Urban Light by sculptor Chris Burden.
Burden's work is a fitting nod to his city. An Angelino since 1975, he began collecting streetlamps in 2000, when he purchased his first two at Pasadena's Rose Bowl Flea Market. All 202 in this project date to the 1920's and '30's, and all come from in and around L.A. As he amassed them at his studio, he hand-blew any missing glass lanterns and globes, sandblasted the cast-iron posts, and powder-coated them dove gray for the sake of uniformity. (They're different styles and sizes, ranging from 20 to 30 feet in height and 500 to 8,000 pounds in weight.)
Every lamp in the installation is illuminated at night, thanks to electricity generated by the museum's solar panels. Burden compares the result to "a temple with a roof of light." So strong is its fascination that traffic on adjacent
Wilshire Boulevard is even slower than usual.