When Is Public Art Not Public? When It Stars in a Movie

A Los Angeles museum charged the recent Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher film a fee to shoot under a famous public artwork by Chris Burden.

The cinematic quality of Los Angeles's iconic public artwork Urban Light is undisputed. Chris Burden's forest of streetlamps, positioned in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is so often photographed that LACMA turned user-submitted photos into a book and exhibition. Access to the lights is never restricted, and at all hours of the day you'll see people using the warm, soft light as a backdrop for wedding photos, music videos, headshots (this is L.A.), and student films. In fact, when I was there the other day, I saw this scene playing out just as the lights flicked on for the evening. How cool that the museum lets this kind of filming go on, I thought. It's like a little public theater on Wilshire Boulevard.

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