The Broad Hosts Its First Opening Reception Since the Pandemic Began

The Broad Hosts Its First Opening Reception Since the Pandemic Began

On Saturday night, I returned to my old stomping grounds at the Broad museum in Downtown Los Angeles for an opening celebration for “Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” and the group show “This Is Not America's Flag.” Having worked at the institution for a few years, I’m no stranger to how beautifully the building transforms itself for special exhibitions and that night did not disappoint. The first floor of the institution was converted into a two-part immersive art experience—the gorgeous Murakami survey juxtaposed with the multi-artist presentation exploring American history and patriotism. Murakami and several of the artists from the group exhibition were present at the evening affair alongside notable figures in entertainment, music and design, including Andre 3000, J.J. Abrams, Salehe Bembury, Zack Bia, Vic Mensa, Lionel Richie, and Dr. Woo.

Major artists and art figures in attendance included Genevieve Gaignard, Sayre Gomez, Emmanuel Perrotin, Ann Philbin, Betye Saar, Wendy Red Star and Shinique Smith in addition to The Broad founding director Joanne Heyler and museum cofounder Edythe Broad.

“Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow,” curated by Ed Schad marks the artist’s first solo show at the museum and displays the entirety of the Broad’s collection of his works alongside immersive installations developed in collaboration with the artist and his studio, Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd, and augmented reality elements both inside and outside the space. While colorful and playful much like the artist’s demeanor, the exhibition also addresses serious issues in the context of postwar Japan. The monumental scale of works like the 82-foot-long titular painting, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow (2014), took me by surprise and discoveries were abound in the joint venture pieces on display—in particular, Times: America Too (2018), a collaboration between Murakami and the recently deceased artist and designer Virgil Abloh. Its Americana iconography draws a visual link to the Broad’s second show on view.

“This is Not America’s Flag,” curated by Sarah Loyer, features more than 20 artists and spotlights their exploration of the symbolism of the American flag. The exhibition was inspired by the ongoing fight for racial equality and justice as well as two pivotal works in the Broad collection—African-American Flag (1990) by David Hammons and Flag (1967) by Jasper JohnsAdditionally, the exhibition borrows its title from Alfredo Jaar’s iconic 1987 work, A Logo for America, which is aptly installed at the entrance to the exhibition. Pieces by artists Cindy Sherman, Genevieve Gaignard, Jeffrey Gibson, Nicole Eisenman, Lauren Aguilar and the late John Outterbridge, a pioneer of the Los Angeles assemblage genre, further provide provoking imagery and composition. One of the newest additions to the Broad collection, America (2021) by Hank Willis Thomas, cofounder of the activist artist collective For Freedoms, further explores the notion of American identity and freedom with work composed of repurposed American flags and prison uniforms.

 “The artworks in these exhibitions speak to recovery, resistance and even beauty in the face of deep social and environmental upheaval,” says the Broad founding director Joanne Heyler. I’m excited to see how they continue to inspire.