The Speculative City

Art, Real Estate, and the Making of Global Los Angeles

2021
Author:

Susanna Phillips Newbury

The Speculative City

A forensic examination of the mutual relationship between art and real estate in a transforming Los Angeles


In The Speculative City, Susanna Phillips Newbury teases out how art and Los Angeles shaped one another’s evolution. She compellingly articulates how together they transformed the Southland, establishing the foundation for its contemporary art infrastructure, and explains how artists came to influence Los Angeles’s burgeoning definition as the global city of the twenty-first century.

Underlying every great city is a rich and vibrant culture that shapes the texture of life within. In The Speculative City, Susanna Phillips Newbury teases out how art and Los Angeles shaped one another’s evolution. She compellingly articulates how together they transformed the Southland, establishing the foundation for its contemporary art infrastructure, and explains how artists came to influence Los Angeles’s burgeoning definition as the global city of the twenty-first century.

Pairing particular works of art with specific innovations in real estate development, The Speculative City reveals the connections between real estate and contemporary art as they constructed Los Angeles’s present-day cityscape. From banal parking lots to Frank Gehry’s designs for artists’ studios and museums, Newbury examines pivotal interventions by artists and architects, city officials and cultural philanthropists, concluding with an examination of how, in the wake of the 2008 global credit crisis, contemporary art emerged as a financial asset to fuel private wealth and urban gentrification.

Both a history of the transformation of the Southland and a forensic examination of works of art, The Speculative City is a rich complement to the California chronicles by such writers as Rebecca Solnit and Mike Davis.

The Speculative City

Susanna Phillips Newbury is associate professor of art history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


The Speculative City

Contents


Introduction: Art on FIRE


1. Thirtyfour Parking Lots in the Fragmented Metropolis


2. Art in the Suburbs: Master Plans and Industrial Images


3. Performing Lifestyle in Townhome California


4. The Artist’s Studio Exposed


5. Risk Architecture: Museums in Crisis


Epilogue: Asset Art


Acknowledgments


Notes


Bibliography


Index