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Ocean Park No. 67, 1973, Richard Diebenkorn. The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection courtesy of The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn


Ocean Park No. 26, 1970, Richard Diebenkorn. Nerman Family Collection courtesy of The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn

Pacific Standard Time, the sprawling art exposition that includes encampments at 60 different venues in the Los Angeles area, has already shifted the narrative for signifiers like California, art, post war, innovation.

The experience as it turns out is even more overwhelming and implication-rich than I imagined. (My pre-visit post is here.) And even though I spent my early life on the West Coast and am very familiar with the work of many of these California artists, the visual impact still has me feeling a bit too dizzied to offer a linear account. As Roberta Smith wrote in the Times, “’Pacific Standard Time’ has been touted as rewriting history. It seems equally plausible to say that it simply explodes it, revealing the immensity of art before the narrowing and ordering of the historicizing process.”

The image that comes to mind is an immense tarp laid out in the desert, an expanse of flatness that seemed inert. Then one day a helium truck showed up. Who knew? The immense and colorful hot air balloon, air borne and levitating over Los Angeles right now, is more spectacular than anyone imagined.

With my sensibility villi all still aflutter from a week of overstimulation I’ll just launch in and share a few highlights. A good beginning is the Getty (the organization that conceived and underwrote this whole thing) and the Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950–1970 show. Just a few words but mostly images.

And no better place to start than the two paintings by Richard Diebenkorn included in the show and pictured above. Very different from each other but both utterly exquisite. My partner Dave sat in front of these and said, “These two are worth the trip.”

And here are some other memorables:

This Mary Corse painting so subtle and reflective it is nearly impossible to capture it in a photograph.


Untitled (White Light Grid Series-V), 1969, Mary Corse. Glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas. Andrea Nasher Collection. Permission courtesy Ace Gallery and the artist

Ah. Bruce Conner. Finally this artist and his multifarious gifts are on display all over town (as well as at the Rose Museum in Boston). This early piece is a particular gem.


Black Dahlia, 1960, Bruce Conner. Offset photograph, feather, nails, paper collage, tobacco, rubber hose, fabric, sequins, string, and mixed media. Courtesy of the Conner Family Trust, San Francisco / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Ed Moses. In his 80s now with a legacy that is legion. This early collage is compelling as is a piece on resin.


Dalton’s Waffle #1, 1960, Ed Moses. Crushed newspaper, shellac, and wood. Collection of Jim Newman & Jane Ivory. Image courtesy of Ed Moses


Hegemann Wedge, 1971, Ed Moses. Powdered pigment, acrylic, and resin on canvas. Collection of Phyllis & John Kleinberg. Image courtesy of and Ed Moses

Ronald Davis and his gorgeous mastery of olored polyester resins and fiberglass. (Note: There is another stunning Davis painting on view at the Norton Simon museum.)


Vector, 1968, Ronald Davis. Molded polyester resin and fiberglass. Tate: Purchased 1968. Image courtesy of the Tate

John Altoon (who died way too young, in 1969), was doing his own Ocean Park series before Diebenkorn made the Venice neighborhood world famous.


Ocean Park Series, 1962, John Altoon. Oil on canvas. Permission courtesy of the Estate of John Altoon and Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Photo by Gene Ogami

Craig Kauffman mastered industrial plastics and his ethereal works seem to float in space.


Untitled, 1969, Craig Kauffman. Acrylic lacquer on plastic. Courtesy the Estate of Craig Kauffman and the Frank Lloyd Gallery.

Often referenced for his teaching at UCLA, Lee Mullican had an interest in spiritual dimensions and was influenced by Native American traditions, Surrealism, Zen Buddhism and jazz.


Untitled (Venice), 1967, Lee Mullican. Oil on canvas. Estate of Lee Mullican, Courtesy of Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles.

Sam Francis mastered the edges in this piece. (Another exquisitely understated and tonal Francis is hanging in MOCA Los Angeles.)


Untitled (Mako Series), 1967, Sam Francis. Oil on canvas. Collection of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

OK. I’ll stop there for now. More, more, more to come.


The view from the Getty with Robert Irwin’s gardens in the setting sun


The Crossing, video/sound installation by Bill Viola (Photo: Kira Perov)

One of the added pleasures of the MOCA Los Angeles show (reference to this is in the blog below) was the quotes from artists that accompanied their works. Many are worth sharing and are compelling even without the specific context of the work on display.

Here’s a sampling:

***
When I paint, I liberate monsters. They are the manifestations of all the doubts, searches and gropings for meaning and expression which all artists experience. One does not choose the content, one submits to it.

–Pierre Alechinsky

***
I never violate an inner rhythm. I loathe to force anything. I don’t know if the inner rhythm is Eastern or Western. I know it is essential for me. I listen to it and I stay with it. I have always been this way. I have regard for the inner voice.

–Lee Krasner

***
My work is non-objective. But I want people, when they look at my paintings, to have the same feelings they experience when they look at landscape, so I never protest when they say my work is like landscape. But it’s really about the feeling of beauty and freedom that you experience in landscape.

–Agnes Martin

***
The rational mind constantly wants to be in charge. The other parts want to fly. My painting is the encounter between the minds’s necessity for control and its yearning to fly, to be free from our ever-confining skill.

–Ed Moses

***
I am not trying to illustrate religion. I’m a storyteller with a broken history.

–Anselm Kiefer

***
The most basic thing to say about painting: it’s a limiting condition within which absolutely anything goes. But it’s a negative premise. It’s not, “I like painting because it’s so wonderful—it can do all these wonderful things.” It’s more, “I like painting because it’s so limited, it’s so uptight, so old and so flat and so rectilinear.” Within that, you’re good to go.

–Carroll Dunham

***
I believe that art us socially useful. If it is destructive, it is constructively so. What helps some hurts others—all art is not made for the same audience. We are in a very restrictive period where many think it is necessary to narrow the limits of what is allowable, to set up unitary reality and condemn the idea of multiple “realities”. I support an art of multiplicity, which is why I am an “anti-classical” artist. In fact, I like to think that I make my work primarily for those who dislike it. I get pleasure from that idea.

–Mike Kelley

***
I prefer to consider the painting as a thing in the world than the painting as a picture of things in the world.

–Gillian Carnegie

***
I do not distinguish between the inner and outer landscapes, between the environment at the physical world out there (the “hard” stuff). It is the tension, the transition, the exchange, and the resonance between these two modalities that energize and define our reality.

–Bill Viola

Ed Moses Untitled96x60
Ed Moses, Untitled, 1987 (Photo: Sylvia White Gallery)

Moses is a member of that increasingly interesting group of California artists that constellated around the Ferus Gallery scene (along with Billy Al Bengston, Robert Irwin, John Altoon, Larry Bell, Ed Ruscha et al) back in the 60s. He has a new show at the Sylvia White Gallery.

This excerpt is from a new monograph on Moses that accompanies the show. The essay was written by Barbara Haskell (someone I have long admired) with a foreword by Frances Colpitt:

The constants in his work are an emphasis on gesture, on mark-making, and on an intimate connection with his materials. In addition, almost all of Moses’ work has a sense of three-dimensionality to it. One doesn’t just look at an Ed Moses painting: one enters it, almost in the way that one enters the subconscious during meditation. Moses has been a serious student of Tibetan Buddhism for much of his life, and this influence, the sense of living in the moment, is evident in his work. He says it most succinctly: “I don’t visualize and execute. Every breath is brand new. Don’t think of the future, don’t think of the past, the only factor is now.”


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