An Art Factory Goes Out Of Business

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Up until a few weeks ago, the factory floor of Carlson & Co. was the most famous art fabrication plant in America — if not the world.

Giant pieces of modern art, like Jeff Koons' Balloon Dogs, were produced in this giant space, in an otherwise bland industrial zone at the northern tip of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.

But when I went to meet the founder, Peter Carlson, a few weeks ago, most of the work had stopped.

After nearly four decades, Carlson & Co. is closing its doors forever. The tight economy and the costs associated with fabricating some of this art has made it impossible for Carlson to keep up.

A giant balloon rabbit — another Koons design — sat in a corner. At the center of the factory floor was a 10-foot high plaster sculpture of Play-Doh. It was unfinished, and Carlson can't talk about which artist is behind the project, but it's rumored to be another Koons piece.

The giant sculptures that have been created here have sold for millions. The names of the artists who've hired Carlson make up the who's who of the modern art world.

Carlson started this company in 1971. Until recently, 95 people worked here on art that is now displayed at some of most famous museums in the world.

Today, the factory floor is almost empty.

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