press release

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents SoCal: Southern California Art of the 1960s and 70s from LACMA's Collection, an exhibition that explores the myth of California-- and particularly of Southern California--that has long loomed large in the modern psyche. Portrayed in the early years of the twentieth century as the land of gold and sunshine, California was understood in the popular imagination in more nuanced terms by the mid-twentieth century. Images of both the utopian and the dystopian took shape in the vision of artists working in the 1960s and 70s in Southern California, emerging on the one hand in the sleek, elegant, at times even transcendental works of the so-called "light and space" and "finish fetish" artists and on the other hand in the gritty, even tawdry imagery and materials of assemblage and California pop art. SoCal, on view August 19, 2007 through March 30, 2008, will examine these dualities and their reverberations into th e 1980s and 1990s.

With approximately fifty objects, SoCal features a wide range of works by Robert Irwin, from oil paintings made in the early 1960s to an ethereal acrylic column and disk from the end of the decade that incorporates light and shadow into its essence. A room-sized installation by Doug Wheeler offers an experiential environment in which light takes on a three-dimensional and simultaneously otherworldly existence. The polished polyester geometries of John McCracken, the plexiglas relief sculpture of Craig Kauffman, the cast resin objects of Peter Alexander, and the coated glass creations of Larry Bell all owe a debt to the technological innovations of the Southern California aerospace industry, considered at mid-century to be a harbinger of possibility and plenitude. Billy Al Bengston’s sleek polyester and resin paintings on aluminum and Alexander's and McCracken’s sculptures draw inspiration from another southern California mainstay--car and surf culture.

In counterpoint, the found objects and detritus that make up the assemblages of artists such as Ed Kienholz, George Herms, Tony Berlant, Michael McMillen, and Gordon Wagner speak of an entirely different world. The funky, in-your-face energy of these sculptures achieves more recent echo in works by Betye Saar, Alexis Smith, and John Outterbridge, which also reference the increasingly multifaceted and culturally diverse southern California of the 1980s and 90s. Imagery from postcards and consumer culture also finds its way into the exhibition via paintings and sculptures by Llyn Foulkes, Joe Goode, and others.

While much of the work produced in southern California during this period was initially considered to be regional, in recent years it has gained international stature, due in large part to such exhibitions as Sunshine & Noir (The Louisiana Museum, Humlebaeck, Denmark, 1997) and Los Angeles 1955-1985 (Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2006). Now, thanks to a concerted effort in the 1960s and 70s to acquire the work of Los Angeles artists, which continues today, LACMA proudly presents its own collection, especially rich in these highly-regarded holdings.

Southern California Art of the 1960s and 70s from LACMA's Collection
Kurator: Carol S. Eliel

mit Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Tony Berlant, Robert Irwin, Edward Kienholz (Edward & Nancy Kienholz), John McCracken, Craig Kauffman, George Herms, Michael McMillen, Betye Saar, Alexis Smith, John Outterbridge, Llyn Foulkes, Joe Goode, Gordon Wagner, Doug Wheeler ...