artists & participants
Sunshine and surf boards, hot rods, cool dudes and total babes: that's "Los Angeles", or at least what it evokes. It's not Los Angeles, its "L.A.", and L.A. is Hollywood, a one-industry town. L.A. is a city of speed, and beauty for all Angelenos is represented by the car. The L.A. car is not an appliance on wheels, but a second home (not house), a larger handbag, a dressing room, a mobile make-out couch, a statement. There are more cars in LA than people, and so it is perhaps no wonder that the Angeleno aesthetic finds its basis in the automobile.
Together with the lacquered surf board, the nail polish-perfect sheen of the L.A. car could be described as the craft of the region. Similarly, L.A. art is frictionless and full of attitude. Its cool touch and mechanical look was inspired by the automobile, but also by New York Pop and Minimalism. This combined influence can be found everywhere on its reflective impenetrable surface. The Angeleno artist is renowned for his cool, distancing stance, and the art for its dazzling sheen. The joke about L.A. artists is that their art is slick because they never realised that it is the paper of the art magazine that's shiny.
Los Angeles is a city defined by its roads. Together with Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard, Melrose Avenue is one of the City's more famous thoroughfares, and 8364 Melrose Avenue was the address of Bernard Jacobson's gallery in Los Angeles. Beginning first as a producer of prints, Jacobson spent 10 years of his life in L.A. working with artists, six of whom appear in this show.
Los Angeles art truly blossomed in the 1960s; it was the success of West Coast Pop, together with the remarkable objects of the Light and Space group that put L.A. on the international art map. This, together with the new ceramics know as "Otis Clay", really comprised the "L.A. Look". And no one epitomized this look better than Ed Ruscha. The Oklahoma-born artist has always captured a certain sense of America, specifically L.A., and mediated it through the Pop vernacular. Where Ruscha's cool conceptualism spoke for the city, Joe Goode's paintings appear to recreate phenomena. From his early 'milk bottles' to the more recent 'landscapes', Goode has channeled the lessons of 1950s abstraction to work towards a different - more Eastern - understanding of the sublimity of phenomena. Cool figuration can also be found in Robert Graham's cold, near perfect bronzes. The Mexican-born artist appears as the traditionalist in this group, but it is his psychological glare, together with the choice of poses which lends his bronze sculptures its distancing quality.
Experimentation is the other aspect of L.A. cool. The Light and Space group used new technology and materials to create "sculptures" and installations that provided focal points which sensitised viewers to their experience of seeing. Characteristic of this attitude, Larry Bell's use of untraditional materials (denim, glass) in his recent collage continue his exploration of alternative representations of space. Though in appearance Ed Moses' abstraction seems based in the Abstract Expressionist tradition, it is entirely West Coast in its mechanical approach. His early work - like Pop - was structured on the grid and rooted in repetition, and as it matured he has kept this as an underlying structure upon which to simultaneously experiment with different mediums. On the other hand, Ken Price's experimental ceramics are more akin to natural phenomena. His recent "vessels"" possess a perfect, Zen-like quality.
These artists are not only linked by the city and Jacobson, but by their approach. The Angeleno artists' attitude is experimental; it is rigorous in its attempt to engage with, or recreate phenomena; and it is also in the great tradition of LA itself, predicated on pure pleasure. Now lets take a ride
Out of L.A.
Six Californian artists
mit Larry Bell, Joe Goode, Robert Graham, Ed Moses, Ken Price, Ed Ruscha