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Out of Sight: The Los Angeles Art Scene of the Sixties

Out of Sight: The Los Angeles Art Scene of the Sixties

by William Hackman
Out of Sight: The Los Angeles Art Scene of the Sixties

Out of Sight: The Los Angeles Art Scene of the Sixties

by William Hackman


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A social and cultural history of Los Angeles and its emerging art scene in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s

The history of modern art typically begins in Paris and ends in New York. Los Angeles was out of sight and out of mind, viewed as the apotheosis of popular culture, not a center for serious art.
Out of Sight chronicles the rapid-fire rise, fall, and rebirth of L.A.’s art scene, from the emergence of a small bohemian community in the 1950s to the founding of the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1980. Included are some of the most influential artists of our time: painters Edward Ruscha and Vija Celmins, sculptors Ed Kienholz and Ken Price, and many others.

A book about the city as much as it is about the art, Out of Sight is a social and cultural history that illuminates the ways mid-century Los Angeles shaped its emerging art scene—and how that art scene helped remake the city.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590514115
Publisher: Other Press, LLC
Publication date: 04/14/2015
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

William Hackman is a former managing editor at the J. Paul Getty Trust and a longtime arts journalist who has written extensively about art, music, and theater for general audiences. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in major American newspapers and magazines, including the Chicago Tribune, thePhiladelphia Inquirer, and the Los Angeles Times. The author of two previous books—The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for the Art Spaces series (Scala: 2008); and Inside the Getty (J. Paul Getty Trust: 2008)—Hackman lives in Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt

What Los Angeles-based artists lacked in sophistication, they made up for in brio, independence, and resourcefulness. Far from the competitive pressures of the New York scene—its self-conscious wrestling with modernist theory and the legacy of Abstract Expressionism—artists in Los Angeles felt freer than their New York counterparts to explore issues not pre-ordained by the critical priesthood. “The beauty of growing up in California at this moment in time,” [Robert] Irwin insisted, was “that you [had] very little dead weight. . . . All the things that New Yorkers would say to me was wrong with California—the lack of culture, place, sense of the city and all that—is exactly why I was here. It was very possible to entertain the future here.” That sense of freedom was contagious among artists in Los Angeles. Unencumbered by prescriptive regimes, the most important artists to emerge in sixties L.A. saw little need to defend or justify their work according to genre or style.

Table of Contents

Introduction: "It was very possible to entertain the future here" 1

1 Work in Progress 13

2 The Coast of Bohemia 25

3 A Feral Gallery 37

4 Obscure Objects of Desire 51

5 Reinventing the Wheel 67

6 Wild West 83

7 Walter Hopps, Hopps, Hopps 99

8 The Other Side of Town 111

9 Ferus Redux 123

10 All That Is Solid 137

11 The Orgiastic Future 153

12 Suburbia and the Sublime 169

13 Seeing and Nothingness 183

14 After the Gold Rush 197

15 "There oughta be a law against sunny Southern California" 209

16 Magic Kingdom 221

17 Location, Location, Location 233

Acknowledgments 245

Notes 251

Bibliography 271

Photo Credits 287

Index 289

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