Southern California Arts Institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego Collaborate on Concurrent Exhibitions on L.A.s Post WWII Modern Art History
October 28, 2008
LOS ANGELES—The Getty Foundation today announced a series of 15 grants totaling nearly $2.8 million that will launch an unprecedented series of concurrent exhibitions at museums throughout Southern California highlighting the post-World War II Los Angeles art scene. Exhibitions will begin in 2011 as part of the initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.
Today’s grants bring to $5.5 million the total awarded by the Getty Foundation for the largest collaborative project undertaken by museums in the region. Previously, the Foundation awarded 18 grants totaling nearly $2.7 million to libraries, archives, and museums with significant archival holdings that tell the story of this era.
“The exhibitions, and the events that will accompany them as part of Pacific Standard Time will demonstrate the pivotal role played by Southern California in national and international artistic movements since the middle of the twentieth century,” said Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation. “Art institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego are joining together to create programs that will highlight the region’s vibrant artistic scene.”
The lively Los Angeles postwar art community included artists Ed Ruscha, Patssi Valdez, Judy Chicago, John Outterbridge, Ed Kienholz, Betye Saar, Carlos Almaraz and Fred Hammersley, curators Henry Hopkins and Walter Hopps, gallerists Irving Blum, Patricia Faure and Everett Ellin, and Stanley Grinstein, collector and co-founder of the pioneering publisher and print workshop Gemini/G.E.L., among many others.
Institutions that today received research and planning grants for exhibitions beginning in fall 2011 include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), the Hammer Museum, the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the California African American Museum (CAAM), The Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), Pomona College Museum of Art (PCMA), the University Art Museum at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA), Scripps College’s Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Otis College of Art and Design, the Long Beach Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles Filmforum. Each institution will have a distinctive exhibition, but all will focus on postwar art from 1945 to 1980 as part of the joint initiative.
The diverse series of exhibitions will include MOCA’s California Culture, 1969-1980: Pluralism in the Postmodern Era, an exhibition of 120 artists who contributed to the enormous variety of artistic practices that emerged on the West Coast during this decade; LACMA’s California Design, 1930-1965: "Living in a Modern Way,” featuring over 300 works ranging from household items to “lifestyle” objects like automobiles and surfboards; and OCMA’s Circa 1969: California Art on the Cusp, examining the interconnectedness of Northern and Southern California conceptual artists and the early institutions that supported them.
The Hammer Museum will provide a comprehensive survey of the work of African American artists in Los Angeles during the 1960s and 1970s, while AMOCA will examine artist Millard Sheets and his milieu in Searching for Peace, Post WWII Innovations in Clay, exploring changing attitudes towards ceramics and craft in the postwar era and the connection between craft and the social reform of 1960s counter culture.
The Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA will stage three related exhibitions: The Mexican American Generation: 1945-1965 to be held at the Claremont Museum of Art, Chicano Art Organizations: 1965-1980 to be held at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, and Mapping a Chicano Sense of Place in L.A. Art History, to be held at LACMA.
A complete list of the 15 new exhibition grantees is attached, along with an exhibition planned by the J. Paul Getty Museum as part of Pacific Standard Time.
Marrow said she hopes the large scale commitment and collaboration on Pacific Standard Time will give visitors and scholars alike a greater awareness of Los Angeles as a major artistic center and ensure that significant archives are preserved for the future.
In addition to those who have received grants, other Southern California institutions also are welcome to participate in this regional celebration of modern art from 1945-1980. Many already have indicated plans to do so, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which is including California-related works in its 2011 season, and the Norton Simon Museum, which is exhibiting selections from its extensive collection of prints from the legendary Tamarind Lithography Workshop.
Added Marrow, “We hope that one outgrowth of Pacific Standard Time will be future collaborations in the greater Los Angeles area that continue to build on the region’s reputation as a major center for the visual and performing arts.”
About Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980
The Pacific Standard Time project began in 2002 with a grant to the California International Arts Foundation to survey public and private archival holdings related to L.A. art in the postwar period. The survey located a wealth of material on the postwar avant-garde, but also determined that the historic record of the era was often inaccessible to scholars, and in some cases, in danger of being destroyed. With the results of the survey, the Getty Foundation and the Getty Research Institute partnered to preserve this documentary record. The Foundation awarded 18 grants of nearly $2.7 million to libraries, archives, and museums, including the LA County Museum of Art, UCLA, and Art Center College of Design, to begin to catalog their holdings, and the Getty Research Institute began capturing the voices of the era in an extensive cycle of oral histories.
The Getty Research Institute also has been active in acquiring collections from this era, such as the archive of architectural photographer Julius Shulman, the Long Beach Museum of Art Video Archive, and the archive of the magazine High Performance.
“Many of the key figures were getting up in years, their papers were being dispersed, and the Getty Research Institute really wanted to document and preserve whatever we could of LA’s rich history during the period from 1945-1980,” said Andrew Perchuk, assistant director for contemporary programs at the Getty Research Institute.
Originally called “On the Record” to reflect the importance of bringing these documentary materials to light, the initiative’s name is changing to Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 as it moves into a new phase of exhibitions.
Today’s grants represent the next phase of the project – the exhibition and celebration of the history that has been uncovered and preserved.
Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980
Exhibition Planning Grants Awarded
American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA)
The decades following WWII in particular saw tremendous growth and experimentation in ceramic craft and studio pottery, as well as the establishment of the American Crafts Council, which aimed to identify the philosophical and sociological role of craft in contemporary society. Southern California’s contribution to this shift was perhaps best embodied by artist Millard Sheets (1907-1989) and the legacy he inspired as a teacher and leader among the studio potters of Los Angeles. The American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) will examine Sheets and his milieu in Searching for Peace, Post WWII Innovations in Clay, to better understand the changing attitudes towards ceramics and craft in the postwar era and the connection between craft and the social reform instigated by 1960s counter culture.
The Hammer Museum
During the postwar period, Los Angeles’ African American artists made varied and important contributions to the vibrant art scene within the region and beyond. The Hammer Museum will provide a comprehensive survey of the work of African American artists in Los Angeles during the 1960s and 70s. Charting the work of key figures like David Hammons, Senga Nengudi, Noah Purifoy, and Betye Saar, the exhibition will examine a prevailing artistic shift away from didactic artistic modes towards more abstract, conceptual, and performance-based practices.
California African American Museum (CAAM)
During the post-war period institutions such as Alonzo and Dale Davis’ Brockman Gallery, Cecil Fergerson and Claude Booker’s Black Arts Council, and the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company building (located at the intersection of Adams and Arlington Boulevards) emerged to support the work of Black artists through exhibitions, commissions, and community organizations. Because the collective history of African-American artists in L.A. remains largely untold, the California African-American Museum will showcase an exhibition called Places of Validation, Art and Progression dedicated to the prominent players who encouraged Black artists and helped make their work visible during the postwar period. The show will include artworks of the era as well as photographs and ephemera.
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA
Postwar art in Los Angeles would not be complete without considering the essential contributions of the city’s Mexican American and Chicano artists. Important figures from Domingo Ulloa, the “Father of Chicano Art,” have yet to receive critical attention. The Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA will stage two related exhibitions and a contemporary art installation focusing on: The Mexican American Generation: 1945-1965 to be held at the Claremont Museum of Art; Chicano Art Organizations: 1965-1980 to be held at UCLA’s Fowler Museum; and Mapping a Chicano Sense of Place in L.A. Art History —an installation at LACMA. All three will explore aspects of the Mexican presence in Los Angeles during the post World War II era.
Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA)
The rise of video in the 1970s and 1980s was one of the most important artistic innovations that occurred in post-war Los Angeles. Few places in the world were more involved in the early experimentation of this nascent medium than the Long Beach Museum of Art's Video Media Center, which supported numerous video artists, including Nancy Buchanan, Tony Labat, and Tony Oursler. Through its on-site post-production facilities and exhibition programming, the museum enabled the creation of over 3,000 works that were held in its archives before being transferred to the Getty Research Institute in 2006. During the Video Media Center's heyday, LBMA's staff often collaborated with the nearby California State University Long Beach School of Art, and together the two institutions presented new works by preeminent video artists from America, Europe, Asia, and Australia to Southern California audiences. Working in consultation with a team of outside curators, the LBMA will collaborate with CSULB's University Art Museum to conduct research and planning for an exhibition that will explore its role in the local and international development of video art.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
In the aftermath of WWII, a generation of consumers eager to overcome the Depression and wartime rationing transformed California into America’s most important center for progressive architecture and furnishings. These elements helped form the aesthetic of California mid-century modern design, which played a central role in shaping material culture across the country in the decades to follow. LACMA will offer the first major scholarly study and exhibition of California’s unique contribution to postwar visual culture with California Design, 1930-1965: "Living in a Modern Way,” featuring over 300 works ranging from household items to “lifestyle” objects like automobiles and surfboards.
Los Angeles Filmforum
While Los Angeles is known primarily as the center of the country’s commercial filmmaking industry, the region also fostered a diverse array of experimental film movements that were essential to the shaping of visual arts practices in the postwar period. For individual artists like Gary Beydler, Peter Mays, and Ed Ruscha and collective organizations such as The Creative Film Society, Visual Communications, and the Los Angeles Independent Film Oasis, the city served as a fertile staging ground for filmmaking experimentation from the 1950s to the present. The Los Angeles Filmforum will screen both seminal and lesser-known works by filmmakers of the period throughout the city during the exhibition period and will organize a major symposium to address the lasting impact of these experimental filmmakers.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)
The 1970s in California presented a period of extraordinary fertility in the visual arts. From the Bay Area to San Diego, California artists challenged conventional artmaking strategies by generating new styles, genres, and movements, transforming the region into an international leader in the art world. Led by Chief Curator Paul Schimmel, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) will showcase California Culture, 1969-1980: Pluralism in the Postmodern Era, an exhibition of 120 artists who contributed to the unprecedented diversity of artistic practices that emerged on the West Coast during this decade.
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD)
As an institution that came of age in the mid-1960s, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) was at the forefront of exhibiting and acquiring works by many of the artists who came to be affiliated with the Light and Space movement. Favoring the shifting nature of environmental conditions and the viewer’s perceptual experience over the physical object, artists such as Robert Irwin, Maria Nordman, James Turrell, and Douglas Wheeler formed the core of this distinctly Southern Californian group. Capitalizing on its unique position as an historic supporter of these artists and on its extensive archival holdings, MCASD will offer an exhibition of site-determined and ephemeral artworks from the 1960s and 70s.
Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA)
The late 1960s in California saw an unprecedented critical interchange between the first generation of conceptual artists in Los Angeles and those in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the ethos of each region was distinct, there were numerous points of convergence as artists like Tom Marioni, Chris Burden, and Bruce Nauman traveled the length of the state for performances, curatorial ventures, or even permanent relocation. The Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) will offer the exhibition Circa 1969: California Art on the Cusp, the first such show to examine the interconnectedness of the Northern and Southern California-based conceptual artists and the early institutions that supported them. The exhibition will be presented first at OCMA and then travel to the Berkeley Art Museum.
Otis College of Art and Design
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Los Angeles was home to one of the most internationally renowned sites of feminist art activity, the Woman’s Building. This center played an important and lasting role in shaping the city’s cultural landscape and national discourses around feminism through large-scale public performance pieces, site-specific work, and extensive networking and collaboration. Pioneers in feminist art, such as Judy Chicago, Suzanne Lacy, and Miriam Schapiro worked at the Woman’s Building to raise consciousness about the persisting gender inequity in the art world and society in general. Working primarily with local archives and oral histories, Otis College of Art and Design will present a comprehensive history of the Woman’s Building and contextualize its artists, exhibitions, and activities within the development of the Southern California art scene.
Pomona College Museum of Art (PCMA)
From 1969 to 1973, Pomona College Museum of Art (PCMA) presented some of the most challenging exhibitions of contemporary art anywhere in the country through its experimental exhibition program curated by Hal Glicksman and Helene Winer. The display of groundbreaking works by key artists who bridged the gap between Post-Minimalism and Conceptual Art, such as Michael Asher, Tom Eatherton, and Allen Ruppersberg, formed the educational backdrop for a generation of artists who spent their formative years in Los Angeles and came to dominate the explosive New York art scene of the 1980s. Pomona College will offer an exhibition chronicling the activities of artists, curators, and critics associated with the college from 1969-1973.
Santa Monica Museum of Art
A seminal figure in postwar California visual arts, Beatrice Wood began her career in the New York Dadaist circle in the first decades of the 20th century before moving to Los Angeles in 1928. Although she was known affectionately as the “Mama of Dada,” Wood forged her own artistic path in California by combining interests in ceramics, folk arts, and the mystical teachings of Dr. Annie Besant’s Theosophical Society. Wood eventually moved to the utopian outpost of Ojai to be closer to the Indian sage Krishnamurti, and she taught and created ceramics there until her death in 1998 at the age of 105. While Wood’s later ceramic works have been the subject of local exhibitions, the Santa Monica Museum of Art will now focus on her transition from Dadaism to Californian/Indian spiritualism and its impact on her artistic persona.
During the postwar period, Scripps College was a vital component of the burgeoning ceramics art scene in Los Angeles. Following the path pioneered by Millard Sheets, Peter Voulkos continued to reform the practice of ceramics as an instructor at the Otis Art Institute (then known as the Los Angeles County Art Institute). Voulkos’ students included Billy Al Bengston, Ken Price, and Paul Soldner, and together this generation of artists shifted the focus of ceramic arts away from utilitarian wares towards sculptural objects. Soldner brought this approach to Scripps, where he led the college’s ceramics program from 1959 to 1991, and helped bring national attention to clay arts practice by organizing the longest-running exhibition of ceramics in the United States, the Scripps Ceramic Annual. Drawing primarily upon the extensive archives of its Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps will showcase “Clay Reconsidered: Ceramics in Southern California, 1945 to 1980.”
University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)
Although architects such as John Lautner or Richard Neutra are among the figures most frequently associated with Los Angeles modernist architecture of the 1950s and 1960s, these decades also saw the rise of LA-based designer Cliff May and the California ranch house aesthetic he helped popularize throughout Southern California. While this type of domestic architecture predominated in the region, its impact on design and daily life has yet to be fully explored. Using its newly available Cliff May archives, the University Art Museum at UCSB will organize a traveling exhibition entitled, The Ranch House: Cliff May’s Designs for Modern Living. Centered on May, the project will examine the domestic ranch house from its hacienda roots to its status as a global icon of middle-class consumption in the decades after World War II.
Though not a grant recipient, the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center also will be offering an exhibition as part of Pacific Standard Time:
The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center
The J. Paul Getty Museum will present a focused survey of painting and sculpture in Southern California from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. In the late 1940s and 1950s, Los Angeles began to develop its own modernist forms and aesthetics; by mid-century, assemblage sculptors such as Ed Kienholz, as well as ceramicists and hard-edge painters, had already demonstrated the beginnings of a unique modernism indigenous to Southern California. In the early 1960s, L.A. became an internationally recognized center for Pop Art through the work of artists such as Ed Ruscha and David Hockney. Artists such as Robert Irwin and James Turrell pursued the confluence of art and science, an aesthetic direction that eventually led to Light and Space art. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Los Angeles was also a center for practices that challenged the modernist object, particularly the conceptual work of artists such as Bruce Nauman, John Baldessari, and Eleanor Antin. The exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum will explore these themes through the work of these artists and more.
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