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Hot Shot: On Location at LACMA With Photographer Spencer Lowell

Photographer Spencer Lowell focuses his camera on Metropolis II at LACMA.

Urban Light, artist Chris Burden’s collection of 202 cast-iron L.A. street lamps that welcomes visitors to Los Angeles County Museum of art, may be the most photographed work of art in L.A., but Los Angeles magazine has hired a photographer to shoot it only it once, for our November profile of Burden written by R.J. Smith. 

Photographer Spencer Lowell got to the museum around 4 p.m. on September 24 and headed inside to see Metropolis II, Burden’s futuristic, magnet-powered cityscape sculpture with 1,100 moving cars that takes up a large gallery, first. He snapped each side of the structure, then moved to the balcony and shot it from above. 

Once the sun had set, Lowell headed back outside to photograph Urban Light (the lamp posts’ lights switch on when it is dark). “I had looked online and seen so many shots of it from across Wilshire Boulevard that I knew I wanted to do something different,” he says. “I couldn’t find anywhere with the right vantage point to shoot it from above, so I figured I had to do it from below. Getting the shot was pretty much just a matter of putting my camera on the ground and using my laptop to take the photos. It wasn’t too crowded, and because I was shooting up, I didn’t need too much space.”

Days later, this photograph was selected to open “The Sculptor of Dreams.” “I was really excited about that shot,” says Lowell. “It’s not always the shots that I’m excited about that get used, so that was great.”

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