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A Brief Review of The Broad

11/10/12 brought the opening of the new Broad Art Museum on the campus of MSU. A truly unique building, a work of art itself, a spaceship that has landed on Grand River that announces (loudly) that here is something quite different. You might prepare for a greater appreciation of the museum by reading City Pulse writer Lawrence Cosentino’s voluminous cover. He wrote a novella, 22,000 words, a treasure of details about the process of the creation of the museum.

To put it simply the building, designed by Zaha Hadid, is stunning. Or in the words of Eli Broad, it’s an unreasonable structure. The angles and the lines and the asymmetrical design offers a wildy different perspective at every glance. The building looks as if it’s leaning from one direction, at another it appears to be a ship, carving it’s way free from the campus of MSU.

The art inside is primarily from the Broad collection, though some of the collection from the Kresge is featured as well. An example is Damien Hirst’s The Kingdom of the Father, a trinity of apparent stained glass in the tradition of stained glass found in churches throughout the U.S. and Europe. Upon closer inspection, the design of the ‘windows’ is made up of butterflies. The tacit implication is of transformation, metamorphosis. Particularly since on the opposite side of the gallery is a wood paneled representation of The Crucifixion, circa 1400, by Paolo di Giovanni.

There is a surprising amount of space in the museum, which is carved into a number of galleries, each with it’s own shape and character.

Elsewhere in the museum is art by Andy Warhol, a Salvador Dali piece, some haunting portraits by Sam Jury, and quite a number of interesting videos. My favorite is found in the basement and needs 3-D glasses to be fully appreciated: Marco Brambilla’s Evolution (Megaplex). He’s isolated hundreds of images from films into a rotating videoscape to suggest some of mankind’s greatest themes. Chen Quilin’s floating bodies are haunting, and Nguyen Phuong Linh’s Boat made from Vietnamese sea salt is a contrast of sturdy fragility, apparently quite solid, but the docent that lingers at it’s side to prevent any touching (some might be tempted to lick it) reveals how frail it is.

But finally the star of the Broad is the building itself. Inside and out, you are struck by it’s unique beauty. It really needs to be seen, and seen again and again, for those of us lucky enough to live in the neighborhood.

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