A forensic examination of the mutual relationship between art and real estate in a transforming Los Angeles
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.
Susanna Phillips Newbury is associate professor of art history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"The Speculative City is an accomplished piece of work, incredibly nuanced in its research, synthetic in its claims, and novel in its arguments. Susanna Phillips Newbury achieves a compelling picture of the transformation of the Southland through a network of developers, and she convincingly shows how certain real estate moguls-cum-builder-philanthropists literally laid the foundation for the rise of contemporary art in Los Angeles."—Suzanne Hudson, author of Contemporary Painting
"In twentieth-century Los Angeles, there is the art of the haves and the art of the have-nots. In this fascinating study, Susanna Phillips Newbury shows how those two worlds have been structured—separately and unequally—through the nexus of art, real estate, and urban development. Essential reading for students of art and political economy, The Speculative City explores the aesthetic foundations of the neoliberal city."—Eric Avila, author of The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City