press release

"Kissed by Angels” presents a small selection of paintings, prints and sculptures by artists who lived in the Los Angeles area beginning in the 1960s, to complement the concurrent exhibition, “Vija Celmins: Television and Disasters, 1964-1966.” Organized from the museum’s holdings and Houston-based collections, it offers the chance to see work by Celmins’s contemporaries who were also making art in Southern California at the time, including Larry Bell, Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode, Ken Price, and John McCracken.

Beginning in the 1960s, artists in the emerging and vibrant Los Angeles art scene were developing a new vocabulary that was entirely their own. Influenced by a sprawling city of freeways and sunshine, the cool school, as it came to be known, was defined in a 1964 essay by Philip Leider in Art Forum magazine. In California, Leider wrote, artists were critiquing the mass media’s infiltration of the visual landscape by adopting the visual form of advertising and mass-produced goods. The California artists, however, were responding with a literally cooler look, based on what Leider argued was “a hatred of the superfluous, a drive toward compression, a precision of execution.”

Less boisterous, subtler, and more economical than the iteration of Pop Art on the east coast, it was deeply influenced by the city’s light and arid climate. For example, Ed Ruscha’s painting, Kissed By Angels, 1980, which provides the title for this show, is a long horizon with a deep orange and hazy sky at sunset. Set in the dark silhouetted hills slicing the bottom of the composition is the barely discernable text of the painting’s title. Unlike the white letters of the iconic Hollywood sign, the more discrete pronouncement, like the work from this time and place, is a quiet and cool poetic statement.

This exhibition is organized by Michelle White, Associate Curator and co-curator of “Vija Celmins: Television and Disasters, 1964-1966.” This exhibition is generously supported by the City of Houston.

Kissed by Angels:
A Selection of Works from Southern California
Kurator: Michelle White

Künstler: Larry Bell, Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode, Ken Price, John McCracken