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Monday, October 3, 2011

LOOKING BACK ON LA’S EARLY ART SCENE





Looking back on LA’s early art scene
How the Getty was a catalyst for a citywide rediscovery of a history that was in danger of disappearing

By Helen Stoilas and Javier Pes From issue 228, October 2011
Published online 30 Sep 11 (News)

Los Angeles. There has never been anything like Pacific Standard Time (PST). The six-month-long, multi-venue initiative is almost certainly the most expensive, ambitious and collaborative project that any US city has attempted. Even on an international scale, perhaps only the Venice Biennale matches the cost and organisational effort that has gone into the project, which documents Los Angeles’ position as a hub for contemporary art after world war two. Beyond the exhibitions, performances and other programmes, the biggest precedent being set is the level of co-operation that is occurring among the city’s art spaces. For once, Los Angeles may overcome its image as a disunited conglomeration of neighbourhoods and be seen as one big arts community.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about PST is how it started. In 2002, the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Foundation joined forces to ¬establish a research initiative that would archive the post-war ¬history of southern California’s artists and explore the emergence of Los Angeles as an international art centre. Early on, it was known as “On the Record” and remained a largely internal project, created to prevent the history of Los Angeles’ art and artists disappearing. “There were things that needed to be rescued,” says Ralph Rugoff, the director of the Hayward Gallery in London who lived and worked in Los Angeles for over a decade. “There are a few artists, such as Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari, whose early work is well known, but there are a lot who haven’t made it ¬into the canon of American art, who made great work and who were largely ignored by the art press [at the time].”

Little did the Getty know that the project would grow into the 60-venue event PST has become. Over the past ten years, the foundation has given more than $10m in grants to institutions in and around Los Angeles (and even a few museums outside the state), helping them to preserve, study and display their collections of Californian art. The institute, meanwhile, acquired the archives of major figures in the city’s art scene, including collector and art dealer Betty Asher, artists Robert Irwin and Allan Kaprow, photographer Charles Brittin, and curator and museum director Henry Hopkins. It also amassed its own archive of oral histories through interviews with artists, collectors, curators and critics.

Read full article here.


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