PASADENA, CA.- The Pasadena Museum of California Art
presents L.A. RAW: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles, 1945-1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthy on view from January 22, 2012 to May 20, 2012. The figurative artists, who dominated the postwar Los Angeles art scene until the late 1950s, have largely been written out of todays art history. This exhibition, part of the Getty Foundations initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 19451980, traces the distinctive aesthetic of figurative expressionism from the end of World War II, bringing together over 120 works by fortyone artists in a variety of mediapainting, sculpture, photography, and performance.
L.A. RAW surveys the continuing presence of dark expressionistic work in Southern California, providing a fresh local heritage for the figurative art of today. The exhibition fills in a gap in knowledge about post World War II art, tracking figurative art through post-war existentialism, the Beat movement, 1960s politics, and 1970s feminism and performancethe forces that led to the explosion of bodyoriented art in the 1980s.
The exhibition includes commanding figurative works by Rico Lebrun, Howard Warshaw, Jack Zajac, and William Brice that provide a fascinating heritage for the darker side of the Ferus Gallery scene, exemplified with work by Edward Kienholz, Wallace Berman, Llyn Foulkes, and John Altoon. Artists such as Hans Burkhardt, David Hammons, Judith Baca, and Charles White use their work to vent political outrage, while Eugene Berman, June Wayne, John Paul Jones, and Joyce Treiman convey more melancholic, contemplative assessments of mankind. L.A. RAW also includes four artists associated with the important venue, Ceeje Gallery: Charles Garabedian, Roberto Chavez, Ben Sakoguchi, and Les Biller. Judy Chicago, Barbara T. Smith, and Carole Caroompus present deeply personal feminist expressions, while performance artists Chris Burden, Kim Jones, and Paul McCarthy develop a new kind of physical expressionism. The passionate consistency of all the artistswhose work often depicts a boldly honest, strippeddown view of humanity in its rawest, most elemental statedemonstrates the ongoing relevance of expressionism as a primary approach to art making.
L.A. RAW: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles 1945-1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthy places both lesser and betterknown artists in a historical context, giving unique insight into the reactions to World War II and the atomic bomb; to the repressions of the Eisenhower Era; to the fallout of 1960s idealism; and to ongoing racial and gender struggles.
The exhibition is curated by art writer and independent curator Michael Duncan, a Corresponding Editor for Art in America whose writings have focused on maverick artists of the twentieth century, West Coast modernism, twentieth century fi guration, and contemporary California art. L.A. RAW: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles 19451980 will be accompanied by a 200 page catalogue, a muchneeded reference for the study of postwar American fi gurative art. It will include essays by Duncan and art historian Peter Selz who have each written extensively on many of the most the most prominent fi gures of twentieth century West Coast art history and many of the L.A. RAW artists. Co-published by PMCA and Foggy Notion Press, the volume will also feature short biographical essays on each of the artists written by Duncan.