Los Angeles artists in the 1960s-70s

These artists brought this duality into the picture plane. In the words of Robert Rauschenberg, ‘A picture is more like the real world when it’s made out of the real world.’ While the ‘combine’ artist, who synthesised painting and sculpture in elaborate assemblages, lived and worked in New York, he was a frequent visitor to LA, where he collaborated with the city’s renowned print studios. He befriended Lear in the 1970s on one such trip while working with the famed Gemini Graphic Editions Limited. In 2018 Lear lent Rauschenberg’s Rodeo Palace (Spread) from his collection to Rauschenberg: In and About L.A. at LACMA.

Another East Coast artist, Ellsworth Kelly, had his first LA solo exhibition at Ferus gallery in 1966, where visitors, according to one critic, were ‘bathed in the senses of pure pigment.’ Like Rauschenberg, Kelly worked with Gemini G.E.L., with whom he created more than 300 prints and editioned sculptures.

Kelly emerged as one of the leading proponents of ‘hard-edge’ abstraction—a term coined by a Los Angeles Times art critic in 1959 to describe a new iteration of abstraction that prized pure colour, shape and form. In paintings like Blue Pale Gray (1960), Kelly emphasises the flatness of the canvas with a limited colour palette and a bold, suspended shape that appears to sit on the surface like cut paper.

Art in Hollywood

As Deitch notes, Los Angeles has a rich history of cross-pollination between Hollywood and the arts. ‘There are so many people in Los Angeles known for creative achievement in film, television and music, and many in these fields also engaged in the art world, going back to Edward G. Robinson, Billy Wilder and Dennis Hopper,’ he says. ‘For a long time there have been influential people in film and television who have been important art collectors and patrons.’

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