THE BLOG
01/12/2012 06:11 pm ET Updated Mar 13, 2012

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Which Is the Prettiest Fair of All?

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Love it or hate it, this city of ours is known and defined by perpetual driving along the miles and miles of its freeways. You want to have a perfect portrait of the city? Think about pulling, twisting, thrusting together all these roads. Then add the hundreds of thousands of cars rushing and whooshing around and around. Hmmm... interesting idea, isn't it? But sorry guys and girls, someone has already beat us to it, and this someone is one of the best-known American artists, Chris Burden, who, last year in his Topanga Canyon studio, presented to friends and admirers his gigantic sculpture, Metropolis II. I saw it last January and loved this poetic metaphor of L.A. freeways with thousands of electric toy cars madly running every which way.

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Chris Burden, Metropolis II

It took the artist and a team of his assistants several months to carefully dismantle and pack this uber-complex sculpture. Then it took many more months to bring it to Los Angeles and reassemble it on the ground floor of LACMA's Broad Pavilion. At the end of this week, his amazing sculpture, Metropolis II, will be shown to museum members first and then to the rest of the public. But that's not all there is to this story.

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Chris Burden, Beam Drop, 2009
Middleheim Museum, Antwerp, Belgium

This sculpture by Chris Burden was acquired by one of the most adventurous private collectors, Nicolas Berggruen, who happens to be a LACMA trustee. He says, "I buy art to give it away," and, indeed, whatever he buys ends up on long-term loan in various public museums. For the next 10 years or so, LACMA will be displaying Metropolis II. There is also an ongoing discussion between museum and collector about an extended loan of an additional group of important artworks from his collection. Stay tuned...

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Lita Albequerque, Spine of the Earth
Courtesy 18th St. Arts Center

Another intriguing artwork to be presented in the upcoming days to the L.A. public is the one by endlessly adventurous artist Lita Albuquerque who will recreate Spine of the Earth, her well known desert performance from 1980, with its spread of yellow, red and black pigment on the floor of a dried-up Mojave lake. This time around, she will recreate the work with a large scale performance that includes 500 people and a skydiving event at the breathtaking Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City. Spine of the Earth 2012 takes place on Jan. 22 from noon to 2p.m.

If you are interested in participating as a performer in the event you can sign up at www.spineoftheearth2012.com.

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(L) Art Los Angeles Contemporary at Barker Hangar, 2011, courtesy ALAC
(R) Photo L.A., Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 2011, courtesy Photo L.A.

And now, to those of you who want to have an up-close and personal encounter with the Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World of the contemporary art scene, here's your perfect chance. In the next two weeks, Los Angeles will host not one, not two, but, believe it or not, four art fairs, ranging from Photo L.A., celebrating its 21st anniversary, to the first-time L.A. Affordable Art Fair.

I look forward to running into many of you there, and don't be shy to show me what you like and maybe even what you want to buy, and I'll tell how lucky or crazy you are.

Affordable Art Fair
L.A. Live
Jan. 18-22, 2012

The 21st Annual International Los Angeles Photographic Art Exposition
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
Jan. 12-16, 2012

Art Los Angeles Contemporary
Barker Hangar in Santa Monica
Jan. 19-22, 2012

L.A. Art Show
L.A. Conventional Center
Jan. 18-22, 2012

Banner image: (L) Still of Chris Burden's Metropolis II from Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost's documentary, courtesy of LACMA; (R) Ariel Schulman filming Metropolis II

Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of Art Talk, a program on art and culture for KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the show and hear Edward's charming Russian accent, visit KCRW.com.

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