The Un-Private Collection is a series of public programs The Broad started in September 2013 to introduce audiences to the museum’s 2,000-work contemporary art collection by showcasing stories behind the collections, the collectors and the artists in the months leading up to the 2015 opening of The Broad museum. Since launching the program, The Broad has brought together a variety of artists whose works are in the Broad collections in conversation with cultural leaders including Mark Bradford with Katy Siegel, Shirin Neshat with Christy MacLear, Jeff Koons with John Waters, Takashi Murakami with Pico Iyer, Eric Fischl with Steve Martin, John Currin with James Cuno, and Kara Walker with Ava DuVernay. Talks have been held at venues throughout Los Angeles, making the programming available to audiences across the city. Full videos of all talks in the series are available below. The Un-Private Collection series is one part of The Broad’s mission to make contemporary art accessible to the broadest possible public.
On October 11, provocative artist Kara Walker was in conversation with Ava DuVernay, filmmaker and winner of the 2012 Sundance Best Director Award. Two of the most celebrated artists working today, both use narratives drawn from real life experiences to tell important stories from the perspective of African-American women. The recent success of Kara Walker's Sugar Baby installation at the Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn and Ava DuVernay's much anticipated film Selma are bringing difficult yet vital American histories to a wide-ranging public. This dialogue was an opportunity to hear about Kara Walker's process and their shared insights into their art making across the disciplines of visual art and filmmaking.
This talk was co-presented with the Getty Museum's 'Getty Perspectives' series
“…When I was trying to change myself into a figurative painter, I was more drawn to the rococo and the other damned souls of art history.” – John Currin
Artist John Currin joins James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, discuss how traditional portraiture influenced Currin's modern interpretation of the form. Co-presented with The Broad's The Un-Private Collection art talk series and the Getty Museum's Getty Perspectives series, their conversation considered Currin's works in the Broad collections and classic European paintings and drawings in the Getty collection.
Currin emerged in the 1990s as one of the freshest voices in American art and was among a wave of contemporary artists who established a renewed interest in portraiture. Drawing from sources as diverse as Northern Renaissance paintings and pinup magazines, he is known for his distortions of the human figure and his critiques of societal ideals of beauty. Currin is also known for his contemporary renditions of old master poses and formats that often conflate opposing sensibilities—vaulted taste with vulgarity, sentimentality with irony, and conventional beauty with banality. Often rife with art historical references and suggestions, Currin’s work overlays with the Getty’s mission as an institution dedicated to critical thinking in the presentation, conservation, and interpretation of the world's artistic legacy.
On June 23, celebrated painter and sculptor Eric Fischl was joined onstage by comedian, actor, art collector and Fischl’s longtime friend, Steve Martin. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Fischl helped reinvigorate the traditional medium of painting with contemporary relevance. His psychologically intense paintings, where extraordinary dreamlike scenes take place in suburban settings are some of the most memorable images of their era. In recent years, Fischl has expanded his practice to include portraiture and sculpture, always with an unflinching focus on human relationships and psychological dynamics. A pop culture icon, known primarily through his comedy work in television and film, Martin has been fascinated with modern and contemporary art nearly his entire adult life. He collects Fischl’s work, as well as major artworks by a wide range of artists, from Cindy Sherman, Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Edward Hopper and Willem de Kooning to Franz Kline and more. The pair will discuss Fischl’s memoir, Bad Boy, his early career in Southern California, and the inspiration behind his painting and sculpture.
Internationally acclaimed contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, who is represented by 11 works in the Broad collections, was in conversation with author and longtime resident of Japan Pico Iyer. Murakami is known for his bold, graphic works that merge fine art, design and animation and continue to blur the lines between high art and pop culture. His wide appeal and star power often mask his deeply intelligent take on Japanese culture and knowledge which emerges from extensive training in classical painting and his doctorate in Japanese art. The author of numerous books on crossing cultures and a regular contributor to Time, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and many other publications, Iyer’s writings intersect with Murakami’s work in their focus on the common disconnect between local tradition and imported global pop culture. The pair discussed the complex social and historical narratives woven into Murakami’s work and how they reflect upon contemporary Japanese culture.
Co-presented with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’s ALOUD series
“As with all great contemporary art, Jeff Koons’ work at first leaves you confused and possibly angered. His sculptures and paintings are deadpan, misleading, comforting, and even threatening at times in their guiltless devotion to innocence. Koons is never campy or even merely clever. Just smart.” – John Waters on Jeff Koons
The Broad presented an enlightening, irreverent, unforgettable evening with two icons of pop and visual culture. Writer and filmmaker John Waters lead artist Jeff Koons in a conversation about the inspiration and ideas behind his unique works—many of which are in the Broad collections—against the backdrop of Broadway’s glamorous Orpheum Theatre.
Co-presented with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’s ALOUD series
The Broad presented visual artist and world renowned filmmaker Shirin Neshat in conversation with Christy MacLear, executive director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, in The Un-Private Collection: Artist as Activist. Co-presented with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’s ALOUD series, the talk was held at the Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium. In her provocative work, visual artist and filmmaker Neshat has addressed the issues of social repression in her native Iran, from where she has been exiled for most of her career. She also reaches beyond her own identity in her work to address broader concerns about freedom, individuality and the power of the erotic.
In addition to offering the Los Angeles programs, The Broad presented a program at the New World Center in Miami Beach in conjunction with the 2013 Art Basel Miami Beach. The event, moderated by noted architectural critic Paul Goldberger, brought together the museum’s lead architect, Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, withEli Broad and Joanne Heyler to share the conversations that led to the unique design of the building for The Broad. Among the topics discussed were the relationship between the collection and the museum design concept, the decision to make the storage vault visible to visitors, how the Broad collections’ longstanding commitment to lending its artworks impacted design decisions and the significance other cultural institutions on Grand Avenue.
Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford and Katy Siegel, professor and chief curator of the Hunter College Galleries in New York, discussed the work of Robert Rauschenberg, dubbed “artist-citizen” in 1976 during his retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum for his dedication to philanthropy and focus on social issues in his art. Bradford, whose work includes photography, printmaking, collage, video and installation pieces, often uses the discarded materials of urban life and has been influenced by Rauschenberg in his ongoing engagement with his South Central Los Angeles community.
To kick off the series, philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad were joined by The Broad founding director Joanne Heyler and Inge Reist, director of The Frick Collection’s Center for the History of Collecting, to discuss the stories behind creating one of the most comprehensive collections of contemporary art in the world, including discussions on acquiring their collections, their interactions with pivotal postwar and contemporary artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Cindy Sherman, and why they believe so deeply that these works need to be accessible to the public.