I was down in LA last week and spent some time at The Broad. They were between special exhibitions, so I perused the permanent collection and then visited Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror room (The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013). Unfortunately I didn’t have my nice camera in tow, so had to make due with a few phone snaps.
The mirror rooms have always seemed gimmicky to me—I think they might for anyone who has worked in set design for theater or film. I don’t mean to sound overly cynical. They are a neat experience, quite photogenic, but the sculptural execution is lacking in a lot of ways and I felt that it veered toward a DIY aesthetic. The 45 second time limit helps. You’re not inside long enough to fully sense its material construction, and the brevity manufactures a feeling of longing.
It was great to discover some Cy Twombly sculptures on display, which I wasn’t expecting. They are so special and casual at the same time. Like small personal monuments or totems. And they have a mysteriously light touch despite the weightiness and permanence of the bronze. So nice seeing them next to his painted works, too, like a cast of characters in an opera.
I also saw some paintings by Kerry James Marshall and Cecily Brown, which I sat and contemplated for a long time. I regret not visiting Mastry when it was up awhile back, so it was a treat to catch a few works on display. This 2018 painting of a woman dressing in the window is such a wonderful negotiation of space. It’s tender, funny, intimate. Surprises keep unfolding as you look (the dog spying back, the moths chasing the light, the weave of the window screens relating each window near and far, the cheerful light from the distant street lamp, the solitary cloud).
The Cecily Brown painting had some astounding passaged of color and gesture. It walks a razor’s edge of control and chaos, and at a difficult scale that I’m not sure one can fully appreciate unless they’ve ever tried to work that large. I really found the experience of looking at them to be generous—no cleverness or pretense, just immense energy offered freely.