A Contemporary Art Lending Resource
The Broad Art Foundation is a lending resource of contemporary art drawn from the collections of two of the foremost philanthropists of our day, Eli and Edythe Broad. With a strong desire to advance public appreciation for contemporary art, the Broads established The Broad Art Foundation in 1984 as a way to keep these works in the public domain through an enterprising loan program that makes the art available for exhibition at accredited institutions throughout the world. The result is a lending library of contemporary art and an expansive collection that is regularly cited as one of the top in the world.
In its first two decades, the Foundation loaned more than 8,000 works to over 500 institutions with combined annual visitors of more than 100 million.
Public institutions face numerous challenges when presenting avant-garde work: increasing operating costs, shrinking government support, and powerful speculative buyers in the art market who may not commit to sharing their acquisitions in public exhibitions. The Broad Art Foundation keeps pace with the market – collecting with the agility and speed of a private collector – yet does so with a public-minded objective: creating a unique repository of contemporary art with the sole purpose of display and study by public institutions.
The Broad Collections:
The Broad Art Foundation and The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection
The Broad collections include approximately 2000 artworks by more than 200 artists who range from the vanguard innovators of 1960s and 70s to artists achieving similar distinction today. The Broad Art Foundation collection is comprised of approximately 1,500 artworks, and the Foundation typically adds 25 to 100 works per year. The nearly 500 works in the Broads’ personal collection are augmented by very selective additions of major historical masterworks, such as the David Smith sculpture Cubi XXVIII, 1965, acquired in 2005, and Andy Warhol’s Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can (Pepper Pot), 1962, acquired in 2006. Acquisitions for the collections typically meet one or more of the following criteria: the acquisition meaningfully fills a gap within the collections’ holdings of an artist’s work; the work is of iconic importance that broadens the scope of the collections; or the work contributes a new facet to the contemporary art resources in Los Angeles and the West Coast. When an artist is added to the Foundation collection, that acquisition signifies our belief that the work demonstrates a mature point of view and the artist shows potential to influence the contemporary era. The Foundation’s commitment to collecting in depth means that our first acquisition of an artist’s work typically leads to a meaningful grouping over time, which ensures that important, multiple examples of an artist’s achievement are available to public art institutions.
The Broad Art Foundation believes it is important to acquire large-scale works and installations that might prove difficult for a single museum or private individual to acquire and display. By acquiring sizeable and complex works by Doug Aitken, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Eric Fischl, Andreas Gursky, Anselm Kiefer, Phillip Taaffe, Toba Khedoori and Andy Warhol, as well as installations such as Mike Kelley’s haunting installation Gym Interior, 2005, Home, home again, 2006 by Franz Ackermann, Danse de la Nubienne Nouveaux, 1998 by Kara Walker, Firetruck, 1993 by Charles Ray and the photo-mural Buildings=Guns=People: Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog), 1985 by John Baldessari, the Foundation safeguards them for future public enjoyment.
The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection emphasizes essential postwar masterpieces by artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Ellsworth Kelly, Jasper Johns, and Roy Lichtenstein. The strongest themes in the Foundation’s collection—such as mass consumerism, the roles of representation and figuration, and political and social issues—extend the tastes and interests evident in the more historical works in the Broads’ personal collection.
Collecting in Depth
A hallmark of the Broad collections, and the result of our many decades of focused acquisitions, is the remarkable number of artists whose work we hold in great depth. The art market can often diffuse a contemporary artist’s accomplishment by distributing the works to multiple private collectors or institutions. Our in-depth, committed approach to collecting an artist enables multiple institutions to display an artist’s work through our loan program, while also maintaining a home base where the full scope of an artist’s work is preserved. We strive to create a collection that provides scholars, students and curators with a more complete outlook on an artist’s achievement while serving our borrowers with the resources to bring in-depth monographic presentations to their audiences.
Once an artist is added to the Broad collections, we seek significant works from each period of his or her career whenever possible. Many artists in the collection are represented by dozens of major works, and some are represented by truly unparalleled holdings. The Broad collections own more than 120 photographs by Cindy Sherman - including selections from every body of work she has produced; over 30 major works by Jeff Koons, and more than 30 works by late Pop master Roy Lichtenstein, ranging from his seminal 60s paintings to his works of the 90s. In each of these instances, the Broad collections hold more significant groupings of these artists’ works than can be found in any other public or private collection.
In 2006, The Broad Art Foundation acquired 572 works by Joseph Beuys from his famous “multiples” series. Seizing an opportunity to make a real difference in the emergence of Los Angeles as a world capital for contemporary art, our acquisition brought a substantial grouping of work by the German artist to a Western United States collection for the first time.
Beuys called these works, developed over the entire course of his career, his “vehicles for communication” with the public. Made out of materials as diverse as gray felt, bottles, reels of film or fish bones, each artwork is imbued with political and often personal spiritual meaning. As the artist once said, “If you have all my multiples, then you have me entirely.” As a result of our acquisition, the Beuys multiples will be a large part of the Foundation’s ‘lending library’ program and the only Beuys multiples located in a collection dedicated exclusively to sharing its collection as widely as possible with museums and university galleries, artists and scholars.