William Poundstone
William Poundstone on Art and Chaos

William Poundstone’s Los Angeles County Museum on Fire

William Poundstone is the author of 12 books, including Fortune’s Formula (which was Amazon Editors’ pick for the #1 nonfiction book of 2005), Gaming the Vote, and Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value. He has written for ABC-TV, The Believer, The Economist, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Esquire, Harper’s, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times op-ed page and Book Review, Playboy, The Village Voice, and many other publications. Poundstone lives in Los Angeles.

The blog’s title, “Los Angeles County Museum on Fire,” refers to Ed Ruscha’s 1965-1968 painting of the same name. Ruscha’s work, depicting the Los Angeles County Museum of Art ablaze, is usually seen as an icon of the 1960s avant garde’s rejection of museums. It was also likely a critique of William Pereira’s banal architecture (LACMA curator Jim Elliott privately called the design “the first tract house museum”). Ruscha’s painting had a Hollywood-style debut at Irving Blum Gallery in 1968. A telegram announced that the fire marshal would be on hand to oversee display of “the most controversial painting in Los Angeles in our time.” Uranium tycoon Joseph Hirshhorn, who had toyed with opening a museum in Beverly Hills, purchased the painting out of the Blum show. A few years later, he gave it to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington.