Creating the Future: Art and Los Angeles in the 1970s

Creating the Future: Art and Los Angeles in the 1970s

Michael Fallon

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 1619023431

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Conceived as a challenge to long-standing conventional wisdom, Creating the Future is a work of social history/cultural criticism that examines the premise that the progress of art in Los Angeles ceased during the 1970s—after the decline of the Ferus Gallery, the scattering of its stable of artists (Robert Irwin, Ed Kienholz, Ed Moses, Ed Rusha and others), and the economic struggles throughout the decade—and didn’t resume until sometime around 1984 when Mark Tansey, Alison Saar, Judy Fiskin, Carrie Mae Weems, David Salle, Manuel Ocampo, among others became stars in an exploding art market. However, this is far from the reality of the L.A. art scene in the 1970s.

The passing of those fashionable 1960s-era icons, in fact, allowed the development of a chaotic array of outlandish and independent voices, marginalized communities, and energetic, sometimes bizarre visions that thrived during the stagnant 1970s. Fallon’s narrative describes and celebrates, through twelve thematically arranged chapters, the wide range of intriguing artists and the world—not just the objects—they created. He reveals the deeper, more culturally dynamic truth about a significant moment in American art history, presenting an alternative story of stubborn creativity in the face of widespread ignorance and misapprehension among the art cognoscenti, who dismissed the 1970s in Los Angeles as a time of dissipation and decline.

Coming into being right before their eyes was an ardent local feminist art movement, which had lasting influence on the direction of art across the nation; an emerging Chicano Art movement, spreading Chicano murals across Los Angeles and to other major cities; a new and more modern vision for the role and look of public art; a slow consolidation of local street sensibilities, car fetishism, gang and punk aesthetics into the earliest version of what would later become the “Lowbrow” art movement; the subversive co-opting, in full view of Pop Art, of the values, aesthetics, and imagery of Tinseltown by a number of young and innovative local artists who would go on to greater national renown; and a number of independent voices who, lacking the support structures of an art movement or artist cohort, pursued their brilliant artistic visions in near-isolation.

Despite the lack of attention, these artists would later reemerge as visionary signposts to many later trends in art. Their work would prove more interesting, more lastingly influential, and vastly more important than ever imagined or expected by those who saw it or even by those who created it in 1970’s Los Angeles. Creating the Future is a visionary work that seeks to recapture this important decade and its influence on today’s generation of artists.

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thus allowing moisture to reach the reinforcing iron and wires embedded in the pylon, eventually creating rust and endangering the structural system of the bridges and overpasses. Here’s how Torres described the first day of actual mural painting, as local artists 72 CREATING THE FUTURE began work with assistance from members of the Barrio Logan community: “The paints were all laid out. And there’s this gigantic wall there, and all of us just looking at this wall. So we pour out the paint,

revolved around the Ferus Gallery quickly fell into disarray. In 1966, meanwhile, one of the key Ferus artists, Ed Kienholz, mounted a controversial retrospective exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The massive and stunning exhibition should have added to the artist’s and the gallery’s reputations, but instead it was somewhat derailed because of one sculpture, “Back Seat Dodge ’38.” Inspired by what Kienholz called his “miserable first experience of sex,” it was found to

noir] genre, but that modern point of reference does little to deflate the self-seriousness of a medievalizing spiritual quest (as in Chandler’s chivalric ‘Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.’)”48 In Ader’s “In search of the miraculous” then, we sense that Ader, one of the underappreciated avant-garde artists of Los Angeles—one of Kosaka’s “outsiders” and Crow’s “medievalizing” questers—has become cornered on all sides by an

brilliant works of art. Further, Ferus curator Walter Hopps was a key early champion of Pop Art, famously giving a young artist named Andy Warhol his first solo exhibition several months before he appeared in the fateful group show that Gechtoff and Kelley saw at the Janis Gallery in New York. Los Angeles in the 1960s had not only developed the first national art market outside of New York, but it had remained a wideopen art market where anyone with skill and ambition could make their mark.

July 9, Ader released the towline, and he turned the Ocean Wave to the open sea. Mary Sue, who planned to rendezvous with her husband by traveling to Holland in August, had noted the time in her diary. She remained convinced, like most of his friends and loved ones, that Ader had every intention of carrying through on the journey. “Bastian thought of that sail,” said Mary Sue, “as a statement, and as an artwork, but it was also very definitely an adventure and pitting himself against time and

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