L.A.'s art history becomes a hot topic


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If you have your finger on the pulse of Los Angeles’ art world, you are probably aware of surging interest in the history of the local art scene. And if you read my Sunday Calendar story, ‘Los Angeles artists have quite a past,’ and today’s follow-up, ‘Getty Foundation helps explore L.A.'s post-WWII arts,’ you know that a bonanza of exhibitions is coming up in 2011, thanks to ‘Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980,’ a 6-year-old initiative of the Getty Foundation and the Getty Research Institute.

The J. Paul Getty Museum and 15 other arts institutions will present an unprecedented sweep of historical insights in a collaborative project opening in October 2011. But fascination with the region’s cultural flowering has been growing for a decade, as a sampling of past and current exhibitions indicates:


1998-99: ‘Sunshine & Noir: Art in L.A. 1960-1997’ at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Denmark, the Wolfsburg Art Museum in Germany, the Rivoli Castle in Turin, Italy, and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

1999: ‘Radical Past: Contemporary Art & Music in Pasadena, 1960-1974’ at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.

2000-01: ‘Made in California: Art, Image and Identity 1900-2000’ at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

2001: ‘Chouinard: A Living Legacy’ at the Oceanside Museum of Art and Mira Costa College in Oceanside and Palomar College in San Marcos.

2002-03: ‘Post Surrealism’ at the Pasadena Museum of California Art and Utah State University in Logan.

2004-05: ‘The Los Angeles School’ at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

2005: ‘Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle’ at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

2006: ‘Los Angeles 1955-1985: Birth of an Art Capital’ at the Pompidou Center in Paris.

2007-08: ‘SoCal: Southern California Art of the 1960s and ‘70s from LACMA’s Collection’ at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

2007-09: ‘Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design and Culture at Midcentury’ at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, the Oakland Museum of California and the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas.

2008: ‘First Generation: Art in Claremont, 1907-1957’ at the Claremont Museum of Art.

‘Masterpieces of San Diego Painting: 1900-1950’ at the Oceanside Museum of Art.

‘California Video’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

‘A Seed of Modernism: Art Students League of Los Angeles’ at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

2008-09: ‘Time & Place: Los Angeles, 1958-1968’ at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden and the Kunsthaus Zurich in Switzerland.

Writers are also digging into L.A.'s artistic roots. Sarah Schrank, an associate professor of history at Cal State Long Beach, has written ‘Art and the City: Civic Imagination and Cultural Authority in Los Angeles,’ recently published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. ‘Exhibitionist: Earl Stendahl, Art Dealer as Impressario,’ a biography of the founder of one of L.A.'s first contemporary art galleries by television and screen writer April Damman, will be released early next year by Angel City Press.

--Suzanne Muchnic

Top: ‘Buster,’ 1962, by Billy Al Bengston

Bottom: ‘Small Planes: White, Blue and Pink’ (1957), an oil on linen by Karl Benjamin.