Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art 1945–1980

Edited by Rebecca Peabody et al. Getty, $59.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-60606-072-8
This is the flagship publication in a large, multimuseum, multipublisher initiative to make a record of Los Angeles art. Arguing that Los Angeles was “in danger of losing the historical record of its art,” the editors set out to strenuously document the movements, artists, and issues that shaped the scene. And what a scene it was—the performative aspect of the art is not lost on the editors. The book is studded with stories of such artists as Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, and Patssi Valdez; gallerists like Irving Blum and Patricia Faure, curators like Walter Hopps, and institutions that came to L.A. to reshape artistic traditions; the Otis group redefined ceramics by employing industrial equipment to enable the creation of large-scale ceramics, to name just one example. The best essays come in the form of brief, focused sidebars that give life and personality to an otherwise rigorous scholarly history. An essay called “Tooth” describes the dentist-to-the-artists who, almost accidentally, acquired a world-class art collection in exchange for his skills. Another, “Air,” traces L.A. smog as a creative theme. While the design is less than distinctive (marked by white italic headlines on blue backgrounds), the book is heavy on gorgeous reproductions of iconic L.A. artwork, and, ambitious in scale and scope, represents a significant effort and achievement.(Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/26/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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