Peter Alexander, Century, 1989

Peter Alexander
Oil and acrylic on canvas, 1989
60 x 66 inches
Gift of Ed Moses and family
Due to the number of planes landing and taking off from Los Angeles airport, LAX is a visual beacon and dominate visual reference for the Los Angeles area. From 1988 to 1991, Peter Alexander created a series of nocturnal paintings and monoprints known as the LAX Series. He took helicopter rides at night and made photographs of the city, resulting in large-scale paintings with multiple perspectives and horizon lines.
Just about everyone in Los Angeles, and for that matter, airborne visitors to the region from the rest of the world, experience the subject matter of Alexander’s Century when they fly in and out of Los Angeles airport. Century Boulevard is the main artery to LAX making it the busiest portal for domestic and overseas visitors to the Southern California region. Here a cloudy mist or smog obscures much of the view of the city lights, lending mystery and an undercurrent of peril to the painting.
With its title, and to some degree its bright lights, Century also conjures up references to one of Los Angeles’ signature industries—film–imbuing the painting with the glamour and the artifice of Hollywood. Century City is situated where 20th Century Fox had its studio back lots and made motion pictures–a fact no doubt taken into account by the artist.
Through Century, Alexander reinvigorates the notion of landscape painting and gives us an iconic panorama of Los Angeles that reflects the city’s dual character. It mirrors the mixed feelings of anticipation and angst one may feel upon landing in the city.