John Altoon

John Altoon

1925-1969
.
John Altoon, a painter of lasting importance to the history of Los Angeles art of the 1950s and 1960s as both catalyst and pioneer, was at the center of the circle of artists that showed at Ferus Gallery. Altoon was also psychologically troubled and famously macho, and his larger-than-life persona has sometimes eclipsed the legacy of his artistic achievement. As Irving Blum once said of the artist: “If the gallery was closest in spirit to a single person, that person was John Altoon—dearly loved, defiant, romantic, highly ambitious—and slightly mad.”
.
Altoon’s initial training was in the top three regional art schools. He studied at Otis Art Institute both before and after his World War II service in the Navy as a radar technician, and at Art Center School and Chouinard Art Institute following the war. In 1950 he moved to New York and supported himself by working in advertising doing commercial illustration, while successfully exhibiting figurative semi-abstractions in several venues, including the Artists’ and Ganso galleries. After a stint in Europe on the island of Mallorca with his friend Robert Creeley, Altoon returned to Los Angeles in 1956, in part because he was suffering from bouts of depression and psychosis. Back in LA, Altoon began to develop his own approach to abstract expressionism, taught at regional schools, and exhibited with Ferus Gallery, beginning with the opening exhibition in 1957. John Altoon died in 1969 at the age of forty-three of a massive heart attack.
.

Untitled
Oil on canvas, 1959
69 x 72-5/8 inches
Gift of Ruth and Murray Gribin
2001.010.005
P-3 (from the Sunset Series)
Oil on canvas, c. 1965
66 x 56 inches
Gift of Ruth and Murray Gribin
2001.010.007
Untitled
Oil on canvas, c. 1962
32 x 38 inches
Gift of Ruth and Murray Gribin
2001.010.008
Untitled
Oil on canvas, 1962
40 x 40-1/4 inches
Gift of Ruth and Murray Gribin
2001.010.011
Untitled
Oil on canvas, 1962
53 x 83 inches
Gift of Ruth and Murray Gribin
2001.010.012
Untitled
Oil on canvas, 1962
64 x 37-7/8 inches
Gift of Ruth and Murray Gribin
2001.010.017
Untitled
Ink on paper
19 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Merle S. Glick
1991.080
Untitled
Oil on canvas, c. 1958
56 x 56 inches
Gift of Ruth and Murray Gribin
2001.010.010
Untitled
Oil on canvas, c. 1958
65 x 70 inches
Gift of Ruth and Murray Gribin
2001.010.013
Untitled abstract
Oil on canvas, c. 1959
50 x 75 inches
Gift of Jerry and Sandy Canter
2004.007.002