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J. Paul Getty Museum explores the birth of the Los Angeles art scene with a historic survey
A Getty curator mounts an oil on canvas titled Stage II, 1958, by artist Karl Benjamin for the show: Pacific Standard Time at The Getty Center in Los Angeles. Between Oct. 2011 and Feb. 2012, Pacific Standard Time, a major exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum presents a survey of postwar painting and sculpture in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- —In recent decades, Los Angeles has shed its stereotype as the land of sunshine, palm trees, and movie stars to become an artistic powerhouse and an increasingly important international creative capital. This fundamental shift in the cultural landscape of the city dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, a period of critical importance in art history that has never before been fully studied and presented. On view October 1, 2011 – February 5, 2012 at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950–1970 chronicles the rise of the Los Angeles art scene through a focused examination of painting and sculpture produced in Southern California during this crucial period.

Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture features 79 objects by more than 45 artists including Peter Alexander, John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Wallace Berman, Vija Celmins, Judy Chicago, Ron Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Melvin Edwards, Llyn Foulkes, George Herms, David Hockney, Ed Kienholz, John McLaughlin, Ed Moses, Lee Mullican, Bruce Nauman, Helen Pashgian, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, and Peter Voulkos, among many others. This landmark survey of the period is a cornerstone of the larger Pacific Standard Time initiative, an unprecedented collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California that highlight different aspects of the region’s postwar artistic production.

Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture brings together works from renowned national and international collections to explore the beginnings of a significant indigenous modernism in and around Los Angeles, the important artistic movements that developed over time, and the great diversity of artistic practices that characterized the end of the postwar era. The exhibition has been organized both chronologically and thematically in six sections that convey the diversity of artistic practices happening simultaneously in Los Angeles and the continuities that connected artists throughout this period.

Centering on movements that began in the 1950s, the first section presents hard-edge painting and ceramic sculpture, practices that, although concurrent, have rarely been presented together. The second section examines assemblage sculpture and collage, juxtaposing the major figures that pioneered this artistic approach in the 1950s with those who continued and re-envisaged the medium throughout the 1960s, particularly African American artists in Los Angeles.

A series of more thematically organized groupings follow, the first of which demonstrates Los Angeles’ rise as an important art center and includes a selection of works that convey visions of the city. The following section presents paintings by some of Los Angeles’ most celebrated artists, such as Richard Diebenkorn, David Hockney, and Ed Ruscha, demonstrating that Southern California was one of the foremost centers for large scale pop and abstract painting in the 1960s.

The final section of the exhibition explores ways in which artists were—at the very same moment as West Coast painting’s rise to prominence—beginning to expand notions of traditional painting and sculpture, foregrounding perceptual phenomena and the material processes of artistic production. This section includes many works that emerged from the meeting of art and technology, such as a De Wain Valentine sculpture that utilizes the industrial material of cast polyester resin, and a Mary Corse canvas that incorporates highly reflective glass microspheres. It also presents a group of artists—many of whom were working with similar industrial materials—whose works retain traces of their own creation, as with the process paintings of Joe Goode, Allan McCollum, and Ed Moses; a poured resin work by Peter Alexander; and a fiberglass sculpture by Bruce Nauman.

As both an introduction to and an historical reassessment of these artists and their artworks, Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture provides a thorough and accessible overview of Southern California’s postwar art. By situating the history within the broad outlines of modernist art practice, and in conversation with the larger Pacific Standard Time initiative, this show demonstrates the international significance of art produced in Los Angeles during this era. At the same time, the exhibition’s focus on the creative innovations specific to Southern California, including the techniques and materials that have come to define the region, distinguish this group of artists from their East Coast and overseas counterparts.





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October 2, 2011

J. Paul Getty Museum explores the birth of the Los Angeles art scene with a historic survey

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