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.
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.
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.)
John Altoon (who died way too young, in 1969), was doing his own Ocean Park series before Diebenkorn made the Venice neighborhood world famous.
Craig Kauffman mastered industrial plastics and his ethereal works seem to float in space.
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.
Sam Francis mastered the edges in this piece. (Another exquisitely understated and tonal Francis is hanging in MOCA Los Angeles.)
OK. I’ll stop there for now. More, more, more to come.