Only one note of caution seems in order as the Museum of Contemporary Art opens its permanent quarters on Los Angeles' Bunker Hill on Wednesday: Don't miss the Temporary Contemporary, at 152 N. Central Ave., after you visit the new museum at 250 S. Grand Ave. The inaugural exhibition of 428 works flows through both museums, and the moods, the feelings, are strikingly different and delightfully complementary.
"We wanted each artist to have his or her own space," Julia Brown Turrell, curator and project director, said as she recalled the problems of finding that discreet space while creating a connection among gallery spaces. She was helped in that task by Arata Isozaki, the architect of the new building, and Frank Gehry, the architect who converted a police garage into the prize-winning Temporary Contemporary. For this show, each designed the interiors for his own building, demonstrating in the process the flexibility and utility of both.
The exhibition is titled "Individuals: A Selected History of Contemporary Art, 1945-86," and so it is, saluting 77 artists--70 of them Americans, 16 Californians. The span in time, media and concept is boggling. The first vista for visitors to the new building is a gallery, luminous with natural light from one of the roof pyramids, filled with familiar masterpieces of contemporary art, the sculptures of David Smith and the paintings of Jackson Pollock. The last view, for a visitor to the Temporary Contemporary, is an art form in progress, unfinished, a triptych of yawning excavations dug into the museum floor by Chris Burden, whose title states the obvious: "Exposing the Foundation of the Museum."