Art Outgrows the Museum, Again

John Gerrard, "Solar Reserve" at Lincoln Center

LACMA has a big new gift—the question is, where will it put it?

Tony Smith, "Smoke" on Time coverAs reported in the Los Angeles Times and Art Newspaper, Leonardo DiCaprio is giving the museum John Gerrard’s Solar Reserve (Tonopah, Nevada), a massive installation showing a video-game simulation of an actual solar-power site. The piece is all video screen measuring 24 feet high by 28 feet long. (And while you can’t tell in the photo above, it’s not a flat screen. It’s a chunky block.)

The 24-foot height is about that of Tony Smith’s Smoke (which fills the Ahmanson Building’s atrium) and is about four feet taller than the tallest ceiling in BCAM. It ought to just fit in the Resnick Pavilion (which manages to hold a dirigible). The Resnick ceilings are said to be 30 feet high.

But Solar Reserve was intended to be shown outdoors. It was a sensation when shown in the courtyard of Lincoln Center last fall. So LACMA might show it outside, in the company of Urban Light and Levitated Mass.

What’s not not clear to me is whether any video screen is rugged enough for long-term al fresco display. I also wonder how much energy a 37-foot (diagonal) video screen consumes. Urban Light is powered by solar cells (is there enough spare energy to run Solar Reserve too?) The question isn’t impertinent. Solar Reserve seems to say something about scarce resources, and DiCaprio spoke at the U.N.’s Climate Summit last year.

If Lincoln Center is any indication, Solar Reserve should be popular. In case you’re still not clear on the concept, here’s a video of the piece with the artist’s comments.

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