Pop L.A.: Art and the City in the 1960s

Pop L.A.: Art and the City in the 1960s

by Cecile Whiting




Andy Warhol said about his road trip to Los Angeles in 1963: “The farther West we drove, the more Pop everything looked on the highways.”
In this original and engaging book, Cécile Whiting examines what Pop looked like when it left the highbrow cloisters of Manhattan’s art galleries and ventured westward to the sprawling suburbs of Los Angeles. She finds that the artists who made California their home in the 1960s did not abandon their paint brushes for tennis rackets and surfboards, but rather created in their works a new and different sense of space, the urban experience, and popular culture.

Whiting shows how artists such as Vija Celmins, Llyn Foulkes, David Hockney, Dennis Hopper, Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, and Judy Chicago helped to shape the identity of Los Angeles as an emerging art center, while avoiding in their representation of the city the clichés of both its boosters and its detractors. Delving deep into the southern California aesthetic sensibility, Pop L.A. recounts how the artists transformed the image of the city in works that focused on the ocean and landscape, suburban life, dilapidated houses in aging neighborhoods, streets and parking lots, and public buildings such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The common bond of place, for Whiting, gives coherence to the varied experiments in the visual and performance arts that altered the cultural terrain during this pivotal time. The Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s inspired a new generation of architectural writing about the metropolis and its debased sister city, Las Vegas. Over the course of the decade, the conception of the city pioneered by artists in Los Angeles spread beyond the city of angels to characterize cultural life in the United States.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520244603
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 03/06/2006
Pages: 268
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.13(d)

About the Author

Cécile Whiting is Professor of Art History at the University of California, Irvine, and author of A Taste for Pop: Pop Art, Gender, and Consumer Culture (1997) and Antifascism in American Art (1989).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
For Purple Mountain Majesties     19
Cruising Los Angeles     61
The Erotics of the Built Environment     107
The Watts Towers as Urban Landmark     139
L.A. Happenings and Performance Art     167
Conclusion     203
Notes     211
List of Illustrations     241
Index     245

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From the Publisher

"Pioneering. . . Whiting's project will be central to any further work on West Coast art in the postwar period."—Art Journal (Caa)

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