There are world-class museums in Michigan and in this economy, some of them have had trouble keeping their doors open. Luckily, the threat of shutterings has started to disappear, and in the case of Michigan State University’s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, serious cash is being dropped to ensure that Michigan remains host to some of the very best in art and culture. This $45 million museum ($28 million donated by the Broads) was dedicated November 10th to an art star-studded ceremony, and the attendance since then has continued to grow. - Robin Dluzen, Chicago Contributor
The physical structure, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid and constructed by mostly Michigan-based builders, is a bold, stainless steel work of art itself. Giant silvery fins cover the museum, a dramatic conflation of planes and angles on a patch of grass surrounded by collegiate, red brick buildings. Inside, the extreme architecture continues with angled doorways and some slanted walls to which pieces by famous artists are precariously bolted.
The inaugural exhibition, “In Search of Time,” contains various hits from the Broad MSU Collection and the Broad Art Foundation, as well as a few loaners. In a ground floor gallery, Damien Hirst’s faux-stained glass, butterfly-winged The Kingdom of the Father is placed opposite Paolo di Giovanni’s The Crucifixionca. 1400. Upstairs, a huge, black Toba Khedoori work on paper anchors a room with stellar works like Ed Ruscha’s Strong, Healthy, Joseph Beuy’s Schlitten (Sled) installed on the floor, and an Anselm Kiefer photograph on lead, Fur Rene Char.
Joseph Beuys | Schlitten (Sled), 1969, wooden sled, felt, belts, flashlight, fat and rope; sled stamped with oil paint, 13 3/4″ x 35 3/8″ x 13 3/4″
The collection pieces are strong, but where the building shines is in the site-specific installations. Without a doubt, Chicago-based artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s Red Factor is right at home, mirroring the site with gravity-defying, hard-edged geometry and shining aluminum. While the Manglano-Ovalle hovers at the ceiling, on the floor is Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč’s Soweto House with Prepaid Water Meter –a scale model South African home and meter that is not only a compelling spectacle, but a piece with an urgent message. In its own alcove next to the café is Fritz Haeg’s Domestic Integrities, a communally crocheted rug that began across the street in an empty Borders; it is still expanding with the recycled textiles and found objects brought to it by visitors and student groups.
Video art is also well represented with the concurrent exhibition, “Global Groove, 1973/2012.” Spanning a range of aesthetics and decades, the 1973 Nam June Paikand John Godfrey Global Groove is complemented with contemporary work like Eve Sussman and Simon Lee’s reimagining of Rear Windowcalled Seitenflugel (Side Wing) and a video by Sam Jury, whose series of eerie photos is also prominent in In Search of Time.
Besides being a showcase for world-class art, the Broad Museum has still more reasons to get excited: it’s free to visit, it’ll be the site of all future MSU MFA thesis exhibitions, and it’s a tremendous foundation around which Lansing and Southeast Michigan can strengthen their contemporary art community.
Robin Dluzen is a Chicago-based artist and writer, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Chicago Art Magazine. Dluzen’s writing can be found in such publications as art ltd. magazine, Visual Art Source, i4design Magazine, the Chicago Reader and the New American Paintings blog.