William Poundstone
William Poundstone on Art and Chaos

William Poundstone’s Los Angeles County Museum on Fire

New York Eyes Koons Train

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James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Jeff Koons. Courtesy of Friends of the High Line

The New York Times is reporting that supporters of the High Line urban park hope to acquire Jeff Koons’ Train. That’s the same Train that was/is planned for LACMA.

“We’ve had a crush on the ‘Train’ for a while now,” the Times quoted Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line. Since the High Line is built on disused rail tracks, a New York Train might be considered site-specific after the fact.

Does this mean LACMA is out of the running? No, it’s Michael Govan’s pet project. Officially the museum is still raising money or trying to. LACMA patron Wallis Annenberg paid $2 million for the Train feasibility study. But by 2009 she had somehow grown disenchanted enough with the project to say, “I personally think Los Angeles deserves a much finer icon than a train hanging from a crane.”

Nonetheless work went on. As recently as last year a real Baldwin locomotive was being digitally scanned in Germany in preparation for the project.

Hammond “speculated that Los Angeles and New York could both eventually wind up with Mr. Koons’s train replicas, an idea he found appealing. ‘There’s some symmetry in this sort of transcontinental rail idea,’ he said.”

The problem on both coasts is money. It’s estimated that Train will cost at least $25 million. Conceivably there could be some economies if the cost of design work could be divided between an edition of two.

On the other hand: Isn’t the point of a suspended life-size, steam-chugging locomotive sculpture to be unique?

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  1. Unique is irrelevant except as a postage stamp collectors item. That aint art.
    However, CGI film makers want it done, what could be better than Godzilla or King Kong running rampant and snatching the choochoo of its chain.
    Like Hollywood, art is now all about illusion, about the appearance of importance. The real thing takes too much work. To make, view, feel, and truly understand as what connects us ALL together. What art patron wants to be a part of the hoi polloi?

  2. Please note that the High Line design credit ought to go to James Corner, Field Operations (as indicated in the image caption). Here and elsewhere, DSR are awarded too much credit for that project. Let’s give them their due when the Broad Collection opens…

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