LACMA´s hallmark and LA´s landmark, the Court of Ligths by Chris Burden, has a twin in Berlin, L.A.´s sister city in Germany. The Berlin Court of Light is also an artistically desgined installation of eighty historic street lamps. It is located in the city’s “Open Air Museum” adjacent to the Tiergarten, the Berlin City Zoo.
Berlin´s court of lights is much older and more international than the four year old light court at LACMA on Wilshire Boulevard. It was launched in 1978 and features gas lamps from the era before electrification of large European cities. Street lamps from thirteen European countries are on display — and display state of the art matalwork craftsmanship from the nineteenth century.
Paris shines in this exhibtion. The graceful curves of its street lamps have become a worldwide symbol for Art Nouveu elegance. These designs inspired metalwork artists in Dresden, Budapest and other romantic river cities where street lamps shimmer in the water by night. Most of the street lamps in this Open Air Museum display elaborate ornamentation and symbols of civic pride. They also pay tribute to the history of metalworking dating back to the Bronze Age.
Berlin´s own street lamps were designed to impress, as well as to illuminate. Tall and massive, they radiate the power and energy of a major world capital. The large historic display of street lamps in L.A.´s sister city Berlin achieves the same goal as the Burden Court of Light at LACMA. These exhibits bring popular art by traditional craftsmen to the people in an open space where all can appreciate it. As we say in L.A. — lights, camera, action — in that order.