–Ed Ruscha, “Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire”
Ruscha painted this image of the destruction of a major L.A. landmark in 1968. At the time, the new, William Pereira-designed wings of LACMA were widely despised by local culturati for being too staid, too ponderous, almost Nazi-like in their oppressiveness; so it’s possible this painting is a basic comment on local attitudes toward the place. (If you look closely, you can see it’s less a depiction of the actual museum, than of a design maquette of the museum).
Critics and curators, on the other hand, as critics and curators often do, have strained to interpret Ruscha’s painting as a comment on the “isolation of museums from the general culture.” Whatever.
We know another likely source of inspiration for the great Ruscha’s image of wanton destruction-by-fire: It is, after all, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, so conflagration and destruction is likely an inevitable part of its very DNA.