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DelMonico Books/Prestel publish first major book on artist John Altoon's career
John Altoon, Untitled, 1962. Oil on canvas, 48 x 74 1/8 in. Billy Al Bengston and Wendy Al. © 2014 Estate of John Altoon. Photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- This first major book on John Altoon, a legendary figure of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s, examines the artist’s work not only in the context of his peers but also considers his resonance for later generations of artists.

Renowned as much for his charismatic and mercurial personality as for his vibrant and visceral drawings and paintings, John Altoon is perhaps the least familiar of all the original Ferus Gallery (Los Angeles) artists—a group that included Robert Irwin, Edward Kienholz, Ken Price, and Ed Ruscha. Published to coincide with the first major Altoon retrospective, this book includes works that demonstrate the constant interplay between figuration and abstraction in his oeuvre, as well as theartist’s facility with line and color. Dynamic and often erotically charged, the drawings and paintings are intimately connected—Altoon’s exuberant canvases both respond to and inform the primal energy of his works on paper. This book includes photographs of many previously undocumented works as well as a historical and contextual essay, a distinctive text by artist Paul McCarthy, and brief statements by Monica Majoli, Monique Prieto, Laura Owens, and Barbara T. Smith.

John Altoon is the first major retrospective devoted to this little-known yet important artist whose brief but significant career unfolded in southern California from the 1950s until his untimely death in 1969 at age 43. The exhibition includes approximately 70 paintings and drawings from public and private collections across the United States. The exhibition opens at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on June 8 and runs through September 14, 2014.

Initially trained as a commercial illustrator, Altoon developed both an abstract vocabulary influenced by Abstract Expressionism, and a figurative vocabulary (often erotically charged) that reflected his commercial background. He also developed a hybrid style combining abstraction with figuration. A post-modernist before his time, Altoon had a facility with line, color, and subject matter that resonated with his peers and continues to resonate with artists today.





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