10 Modern Masterpieces from The Broad Museum’s Debut

Highlights from the inaugural exhibition at LA's newest contemporary art museum.

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Sep 21 2015, 4:40pm

Installation of works by Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and Sherrie Levine in The Broad's third-floor galleries; photo by Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Broad art museum in Los Angeles has finally opened its doors to the public, offering both free admission and a glimpse into Eli and Edythe Broad's impressive post-war and contemporary art collection. Before now, the building's architecture has dominated conversations about America's newest modern art museum, and indeed, the design put forth by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler is groundbreaking. But following its official public opening on September 20, 2015, artlovers are able to see the reason why the museum was built in the first place: to house a treasure trove of contemporary art, much of which has already permeated the minds of the masses, and still more that hasn't been appreciated as much as it should.

Here are just a few highlights from The Broad collection, from well-known modern masterpieces to less iconic, more recent acquisitions—all of which serve as a primer on collecting the best in contemporary art. Text is courtesy of The Broad Collection, edited by Joanne Heyler with Ed Schad and Chelsea Beck (published in 2015 by The Broad and DelMonico Books, an imprint of Prestel Publishing).

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Jasper Johns, "Flag," 1967, encaustic and collage on canvas (three panels) 33 1/2 x56 1/4in. Art © Jasper Johns//Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

“The earlier things of mine involved kind of invisible images which have no particular quality, and I think more recently certain things in my paintings have curiously charged images: a leg or an object or a paint area seems to imply a kind of feeling or an attitude and I think—I hope—that within the context of my painting, those are neutralized in some way; at least I hope that my relation to them is neutral.”— Jasper Johns

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981, acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 81 x69 1/4in. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / ARS, New York 2015. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio, LA

“Basquiat had a demonstrated interest in masking, whose art-historical roots in African art go back to precolonization... But the concept of masking held further meaning for Basquiat, who was very aware of other people’s perceptions of him; he employed the mask very early on in his art as a way to suggest dual (if not multiple) consciousness.”— Franklin Sirmans

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Ed Ruscha, “Norm's, La Cienega, on Fire,” 1964, oil and pencil on canvas, 64 1/2 x124 3/4 x2 1/2in. © Ed Ruscha

“Ruscha’s earliest distinctive work coincides historically, both in date and imagery, with the first major Pop works, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans from 1962 and Roy Lichtenstein’s Look Mickey, 1961. One element was Ruscha’s alone, however—a fascination with the monumental that was to recur again and again in his career.” — Luc Sante

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Jeff Koons, "Michael Jackson and Bubbles," 1988, porcelain, 42 x701/2 x321/2in. © Jeff Koons. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio, LA

“For me (and many others), Koons’s masterpiece is the life-size, gold-painted ceramic Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988. Here sexuality is innocent and clueless yet filled with demons. [...] Unable to connect with the real world, the pop star, in both his public and his sculpted private life, is not self-aware enough to make direct eye contact with us; Bubbles on the other hand stares out at us straight on—he knows the truth.”— John Waters

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Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #43, 1979 gelatin silver print, 8 x10in. © Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures

“Sherman started with portraiture and depicted solitary girls and women dressed up, made up, performing womanliness as convention and disguise. She acted the parts, concocted the poses, subtly transforming the girl next door into vamp and superstar.”— Lynne Tillman

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Roy Lichtenstein, "Live Ammo (Blang)," 1962, oil and Magna on canvas, 68 x80in. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio, LA

“For someone who had worked so hard for so long to achieve his breakthrough as an artist, Roy Lichtenstein, even late in life, always remained laconic about the way his famous comic book images actually started. [...] ‘It occurred to me one day to do something that would appear to be just the same as a comic book illustration without employing the then current symbols of art.’”— Annie Cohen-Solal (translated by Steven Miller)

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Installation of Robert Therrien's “Under the Table,” 1994 in The Broad's third-floor galleries; photo by Elizabeth Daniels, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

“In Under the Table, 1994, the viewer is in the land of imaginary giants as well as in the remembered world of one’s own childhood. Fusing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with the Duchampian tradition of the readymade, Therrien constructs a doppelganger from an everyday piece of furniture, both displaying his visual wit and actualizing literary or imaginative fantasy in three-dimensional space.”— Ed Schad

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Barbara Kruger, Untitled ("Your body is a battleground"), 1989, photographic silkscreen on vinyl, 112 x 112 in. © Barbara Kruger

Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989 … was conceived as a pro-choice poster and widely used in a campaign against an effort (by the Bush administration) to roll back Roe vs. Wade [...] And everything, from the schematic composition to the imperious, inscrutable expression to the dated image, conspires to short-circuit any simple identification we might feel with this woman.”— Nancy Princenthal

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Robert Longo, Untitled ("Ferguson Police, August 13, 2014"), 2014, diptych, charcoal on mounted paper 88x122x4 1/8in. © Robert Longo

“For decades, Longo has pushed the physical boundaries of drawing, creating massive, immersive charcoals that rival the largest historical paintings.”— Joanne Heyler with Ed Schad and Chelsea Beck

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Sherrie Levine, "Fountain (Buddha)," 1996, cast bronze, 12 x157/8 x18in. © Sherrie Levine Courtesy of David Zwirner, NY

“[Levine’s] work is generally concerned with the issue of appropriation, how the repetition or adjustment of an image or form by an artist who was not the creator of the work can challenge ideas of authenticity and originality in a world of easily replicated printed media.”— Joanne Heyler with Ed Schad and Chelsea Beck

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Installation of three works by Roy Lichtenstein in The Broad's third-floor galleries; photo by Bruce Damonte, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Click here to visit The Broad Museum's website.

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