Billy Al Bengston
Oil on canvas, 1957
48 x 48 inches
Gift of John and Phyllis Kleinberg

Like many young painters in California in the 1950s, Billy Al Bengston came under the spell of the Abstract Expressionist movement emanating from New York. A number of them, including Bengston, John Altoon, and Craig Kauffman, formed a wildly exuberant cohort associated with the Ferus Gallery, which opened in Los Angeles in 1957. A photograph shows this typically gestural painting hanging in the Ferus Gallery’s front window during a group show in late 1958. Like his friends, Bengston went on to develop a more individual style formed in part by distinctively Californian sources of inspiration, in his case the materials and techniques of motorcycle and surfboard decoration.