Monday, August 1, 2011
Artist Chris Burden's URBAN LIGHT (2008) at LACMA
Chris Burden (United States, Massachusetts, Boston, born 1946)
Urban Light, 2008
Sculpture, (Two-hundred and two) restored cast iron antique street lamps, 320 1/2 x 686 1/2 x 704 1/2 in. (814.07 x 1743.71 x 1789.43 cm)
The Gordon Family Foundation's gift to "Transformation: The LACMA Campaign" (M.2007.147.1-.202)
Contemporary Art Department.
This forest of city street lights, called “Urban Light” was created by artist Chris Burden. Despite initial appearances, the arrangement is not a perfect grid. Depending on where the viewer stands, the lamps arrange themselves in different angles and arrays.
These 202 cast iron lamps once lit the streets of Los Angeles. Burden bought one at the Rose Bowl flea market, and soon collecting and restoring street lights became an obsession. He painted them all the same neutral gray, in order to draw the eye to all the different varieties of cast iron decoration.
Burden says that street lamps like these were symbols of a civilized and sophisticated city—safe after dark and beautiful to behold. The lights all still work, and they are now powered by solar energy. They are switched on every night at dusk, until 10pm. At night, Burden says his sculpture becomes transformed into “a building with a roof of light.”