$25 million for Jeff Koons’s Train about as ridiculous as a fur-lined trash can

Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art might soon find himself as vilified as John Thain, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch. LACMA, which has refinanced some debt and frozen all hiring, is moving forward with a commission for artist Jeff Koons to make a life-sized replica of a locomotive suspended from a crane. According to The Art Newspaper the $25 million commission is the most expensive ever by a museum.

To put this sum in perspective (LACMA has spent $1.7 million so far, of $2 million pledged) one must look at LACMAs spending on acquisition in the past two years. In fiscal 2007, LACMA spent $36.6 million on ALL of its acquisitions. In 2008, it spent $41.3 million. But in this economic climate Govan is really willing to spend $25 million for one piece of art? And we wonder why conservatives complain about cultural spending?

The museum received a $20 million appropriation from Los Angeles County and $90,000 in government grants. Surely the taxpayers will question this expenditure given the fiscal crisis in California. And they should.  I realize LACMA is a huge asset for the city, the state and the West, but a $25 million folly? I think this grossly excessive idea has gone the way of my retirement account–south.

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  1. Jay Etkin says:

    This Economy is humbling to the artworld. The age of sliced cows in formaldehyde or life-sized trains and cranes seems irrelevant! There is need for fundamental change (hey buddy, can ya spare a dime). Regards, Jay

    • leannegoebel says:

      How do we begin a dialogue about the fundamental change needed? A return to artist as art maker and not artist as celebrity? Invite your friends to join in. I would love to hear what others have to say!

      • Jay Etkin says:

        Leanne, I’m in Memphis this month. I’ll be in force in Santa Fe soon. I’m already in dialogue with a number of artists and dealers there. Real art by real artists…not market driven crap. Art making, arts advocacy, and community work have always been my driving force!