Drive-By Art

Art 'on the scale of architecture' is cropping up in Los Angeles, enticing passing drivers out of their cars and onto the street. Chris Burden's 'Urban Light' installation at LACMA is a notable example.
May 5, 2009, 6am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"At night, it's bright enough to stop traffic. One minute cars are buzzing along Wilshire Boulevard between Fairfax and La Brea. The next they slow to a crawl, even though the stoplight is green. The attraction? An art installation consisting of some 200 salvaged cast-iron lampposts from the 1920s and '30s arranged in formation at the new entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Come dusk, the lamps turn on and create a sort of flying carpet of light.

Chris Burden, the artist who created the installation, "Urban Light," has compared his work to an open-air building, about the size of his studio. The museum's director, Michael Govan, has compared it to the Parthenon. It is, in any event, art on the scale of architecture. And since its introduction last year, it has become a leading example of a type of public art growing more prominent in Los Angeles: art you don't have to leave the comfort of your convertible to experience."

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Published on Friday, May 1, 2009 in The New York Times
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