Thursday, August 31, 2006

Los Angeles 1955 - 1985 The Birth of an Artistic Capital

The perennially contemporary cultural arts center in the heart of Paris; Centre Pompidou, You will find not only beautiful architecture in the building itself, a roof top restaurant with a great view of the city, but levels of modern and cultural art exhibits. I was lucky enough to catch the Los Angeles 1955 - 1985 showing that opened my eyes further into the art world. It was an interesting feeling learning about American art while amongst the Parisians. I felt a bit of pride yet understanding ones view of an American and how we are cultivated, at times one might say a inner laugh at how a few artists were obviously high on the onset of creating there celebrated pieces. Walking into white separated rooms with an almost maze quality; I had a bit of each of my emotions follow me to all the pieces of art before my eyes. I felt at awe and comfort. Pieces from well known artists before me in the flesh can pull a lot out of you. I opened up my inner inspiration to many styles I may have thought about using but introverted away. I came to a few pieces and found I knew exactly the technique that was used to form such art that you can only see up close and in person. Nevertheless the best of all that I remember was how much fun and laughter it brought me.
A few artists that caught my inner jolt are these;

John Baldessari: A key figure of 1970’s Art, John Baldessari was initially linked to the 1960’s pop art movement, especially with his photo-text series which made use of photography, text and imagery of nondescript urban landscapes, such as econ-o-wash, 14th and highland, National City Calif.
For the series of works from the 60’s, the artist would take photos while driving, without trying to protect the composition or the picture. He sought to fix images of ordinary places of which people took no notice. Baldessari flatly rendered the urban landscape. Here, the sky is grey; the building is not particularly attractive with its telephone pole and billboard. The photo itself is not pretending to be model in any way. However, the artist transferred the image on canvas using a photo-emulsion technique, and added a title (in this case the building’s address) in acrylic paint, thus blurring the line between photo and painting. In an interview, he explained: “The way I’ve been taught art was: art was painting, and painting was art. But after a while I began to think beyond that. I thought that I could be more into art than just painting and sculpture.” And he added, not without irony: “I put those photographic pieces on canvas because it made them art. If its canvas, you don’t even have to have anything on it and people still think its art.” This demonstrates how Baldessari shifted from Pop art to Conceptual Art. The shift was patent when, in 1970 he decided to burn the paintings he made in the 60’s.
Baldessari is an exception in Los Angeles when it comes to his overt critique of the art world, art teaching and art making. Sometimes in his paintings he makes use of quotes borrowed from famous art critics such as Barbara Rose or Clement Greenburg. Unlike Balessari, South California artists have generally shown little concern for aesthetic debates and theoretical issues.

“I am making art. I am making art. I am making art.”

Dennis Hopper: Successful as an artist, actor, screenwriter, and director. I was captivated by these large photographs not realizing that they were from Dennis Hopper. The banner photograph used for the Los Angeles exhibit in Paris was that of his; Double Standard, 1961. I fully recommend checking out his biography and much of his works that include photos of his paintings and photography. They are truly amazing.

Ed Kienholz: While visions of suger plums danced in their heads. 1964. Then there was the interesting vision of what was before me; a room as a piece of art. What seemed as two very large sperm in the aftermath of a sexual encounter? That was quite the laughter. The room looked to be decorated in early 1900 furniture with one side table full of Coors light cans and an ashtray full of butts, the male I presume. The other side, the female sperm with an antique dress table with lamps. The traveler, the visitor I saw the male sperm, only because there was a old beat up backpack on the floor beside the bed.

The power of war, drugs, music, politics and simple ideas made to be viewed differently, was all inclined before me. You can understand better at how art tells stories of what is going on each decade and what influences each artist as an individual. Art means different things to everyone. As long as it makes you wonder or think another way I imagine the artist has come through successfully.

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