New Getty Exhibition Chronicles L.A. Art Scene

Southern California museums collaborate on "Pacific Standard Time"

The Getty Center has joined with more than 60 cultural institutions throughout Southern California to present “Pacific Standard Time,” which tells the story of the rise of the Los Angeles art scene and how it has become a force in the art world.

The collaboration is the largest ever undertaken by cultural institutions in the region.

“It all actually began about 10 years ago, when we became aware that the history of Los Angeles art was disappearing, so we started to collect archival material about that era and we realized there was enough material for many exhibits, not just one,” said Joan Weinstein, deputy director of the Getty Foundation, which initiated the project through grants totaling $10 million.

Of the 68 exhibitions scheduled in museums from San Diego to Santa Barbara as part of “Pacific Standard Time,” the Getty Center will host four: “Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970,” which runs through Feb. 5; “Greetings from L.A.: Artists and Publics, 1950-1980,” which also runs through Feb. 5; “From Start to Finish: De Wain Valentine’s Gray Column,” which runs through March 11; and “In Focus: Los Angeles, 1945-1980,” which runs Dec. 20-May 6.

“Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970” features 79 objects by more than 45 artists and examines paintings and sculptures produced in Southern California during this crucial period. One that stands out is an untitled Mary Corse canvas that incorporates highly reflective glass microspheres.

“When you look at it from one angle, it just looks like an ordinary canvas, but when you look at it from another angle, you see that there are actually patterns on the canvas and it’s not just monochromatic white. The light has to catch it the right way for the viewer to notice this,” Weinstein said.

“Greetings From L.A.” surveys the emergence of a community of artists who developed innovative strategies for reaching out to, and even creating, diverse and varied publics. This exhibition features more than 200 objects, including invitations to gallery openings, sketches by some of the artists of that period and posters from exhibitions like “War Babies,” from 1961.

“It’s largely drawn from the Getty Research Institute’s archives. They collect a lot of these items and they also worked with artists from that era to recreate the art scene at that time,” Weinstein said.

“From Start to Finish,” tells the story of the creation of Valentine’s “Gray Column,” one of the largest sculptures cast by the artist with polyester resin. The free-standing slab measures 12 feet high and 8 feet wide.

“It has never before been exhibited in its upright position as it is meant to be shown,” Weinstein said.

“In Focus: Los Angeles, 1945-1980” will feature photographs from the Getty Center’s permanent collection made by artists whose careers are defined by their association with the city when it opens in December.

In addition to the four exhibitions, a newly commissioned large-scale work by artist Robert Irwin titled “Black on White” has been installed at the Getty as part of “Pacific Standard Time.” A wedge of black granite weighing 40,000 pounds, “Black on White” extends from the entrance hall of the Getty Center into the courtyard allowing the building’s glass wall to pass through its sculptural form.

Weinstein hopes that people will visit the Getty to get a new understanding of Los Angeles art, and that they are inspired to visit some of the other museums celebrating “Pacific Standard Time.”

“The art of Los Angeles has taken a much different trajectory and has much different influences than the New York or Paris art scenes,” she said. “We hope that seeing our exhibitions at the Getty will push people to visit some of the other museums that are involved in this collaboration.”

The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive. For information about “Pacific Standard Time,” call the museum at 310-440-7300 or visit www.getty.edu.

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