First off, I wasn’t sure whether to put this post in our Arts and Entertainment Tuesday or in our Wanderlust Wednesday section. But seeing as the Urban Light is an iconic LA landmark, I figured that it would be better off in our Arts section.
Chris Burden is the artist behind Urban Light, an art installation that is composed of 202 restored vintage street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s. Housed just outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the installation has become a staple destination for locals when it comes to photo shoots, music videos, and the like. Visitors from around the country has also made a stop to check out the bright lights that this art work provides along the street of Wilshire Blvd.
Burden started his collection of street lamps in 2000. He bought his first two lamps at a flea market for the price of $800 each. At first he had no direction as to how he was going to turn this collection into an artwork. He found a contractor and fellow collector to help him acquire more lamps, repainting them, rewiring, etc., basically bringing the lamps back to life.
The lamps are solar-powered and are turned on at dusk. Most of his lamp collection came from Southern California, some from Portland, OR. There are 17 distinct designs, or looks, and they all depend on which area they came from. Outside the museum, these gorgeous street lamps are arranged in a beautiful pattern on a grid, with the shorter ones on the outside, and towering lights in the middle.
Burden talked to several possible locations for the lamps to be housed, sometimes even sending a small set to different locations, but he much preferred to keep his collection together. Eventually, LACMA’s director that time, Michael Govan, saw the lights in Burden’s studio and thought that the collection would be a perfect fit at the entrance of the museum.
Since it’s installation in 2008, Urban Light’s popularity has soared, and rapidly became a much photographed location, making it one of many iconic Los Angeles views.
So the next time you guys ever find yourself in downtown Los Angeles, make sure to stop by and pose in front of this beautiful installation of the late Chris Burden in front of LACMA.