Untitled, by Douglas Wheeler, 1969. Acrylic on canvas with neon tubing

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More on Pacific Standard Time, currently on view in Los Angeles:

The Southern California artists who congregated together into a loosely defined group called Light and Space in the late 1960s have gone on to be some of my favorites. The list is an extraordinary one that includes Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, Bruce Nauman, James Turrell, Doug Wheeler, Dewain Valentine and, less well known but a friend of mine, Susan Kaiser Vogel.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego features many of these artists in their PST show, Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface. From the Phenomenal site:

Whether by directing the flow of natural light, embedding artificial light within objects or architecture, or by playing with light through the use of transparent, translucent or reflective materials, these artists each made the visitor’s experience of light and other sensory phenomena under specific conditions the focus of their work. Key examples of this approach include immersive environments by Bruce Nauman and Eric Orr, each of which produce different and extreme retinal responses; the disorienting and otherworldly glow of a Doug Wheeler light environment; a richly hued and spatially perplexing light piece from James Turrell’s Wedgework series, and the subtle sculpting of space with natural light by Robert Irwin.

In addition to artworks which literally claim the entire space of the room, Phenomenal also features a number of sculptures and paintings that function as prisms or mirrors to activate the space surrounding them. The properties of glass are explored in Larry Bell’s coated glass cubes and in monochromatic paintings by Mary Corse which are embedded with tiny glass microbeads.

Particularly hard to photograph, these works are extraordinary—deliciously ethereal, timeless, provocative. And for anyone interested in reading more about this movement, I recommend the show catalog as well as the book The Art of Light and Space by Jan Butterfield and Jim McHugh.


Stuck Red and Stuck Blue, by James Turrell, 1970. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


Untitled, by Craig Kauffman, 1968. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Note: Another piece by Craig Kaufman concomitantly on view at the Getty’s Crosscurrents exhibit can be seen here.


Untitled (Space + Electric Light), by Mary Corse, 1968. Plexiglass, neon, high frequency energy. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Note: Another piece by Mary Corse concomitantly on view at the Getty’s Crosscurrents exhibit can be seen here.


#54 July/August 2nd Level Density, by Ron Cooper, 1968. Polyester resin, Fiberglas, and pigment. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

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