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February 15, 2008

L.A.'s Newest Museum

Bcam Los Angeles has a new acronym, and another new artistic mecca -- BCAM, The Broad Contemporary Art Museum, a gift to the city by real estate billionaire Eli Broad and his wife. The musem, opening this Saturday, sits just beside the L.A. County Museum of Art, but could not be more different in style and tone than the mother ship. Designed by Renzo Piano, the new museum is recognizably the work of the man who gave the world the Pompidou Center in Paris; the materials used at BCAM are more durable, perhaps, but the shape of the museum from the outside, with its steep escalator on one side, and its zig-zagging staircase on the other, is familiar. Inside, the space is airy and light, well suited to the monumental pieces on display -- mainly on loan from the Broads, not donated, as was originally hoped -- by the signature contemporary artists of the past 50 years. The work of Jeff Koons  -- pictured above in the shape of a shiny, neon blue balloon - dominates the top floor, along with that of Andy Warhol and John Baldessari. The opening show essentially takes you on a star-studded tour of contemporary art from the 1950s forward, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Cindy Sherman. Not to be missed, however, are the permanent mastodons on the ground floor, the incredible, undulating brown steel mazes by Richard Serra. They are fearsome things of grace and power. Glad to know they're here to stay.