What's it all about?

Exhibit Overview

The Southern California art scene exploded with artistic innovation and social change post-World War II. The years 1945 to 1980 saw the creation and collapse of various art movements and shaped Southern California as a major cultural force. Laguna Art Museum continued to explore the Getty’s region-wide initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 with its own permanent collection, revealing important paintings, sculptures, and often overlooked artists from the crucial post-World War II years through the tumultuous period of the 1960s and 70s.

Curated by Janet Blake and Grace Kook-Anderson, The Postwar Era included works by Peter Alexander, Carlos Almaraz, John Altoon, Robert Arneson, Florence Arnold, Billy Al Bengston, Karl Benjamin, Wallace Berman, Hans Gustav Burkhardt, Francis De Erdely, John Decker, Phil Dike, Leonard Edmondson, Greg Erickson, Lorser Feitelson, Keith Finch, Llyn Foulkes, Richard Haines, Frederick Hammersley, Ejnar Hansen, Craig Kauffman, Adaline Kent, Roger Kuntz, Helen Lundeberg, Dan Lutz, Henry Lee McFee, John McLaughlin, Arnold Mesches, Lee Mullican, Gordon Onslow Ford, Richard Pettibone, Ed Ruscha, James Strombotne, DeWain Valentine, and Jeffrey Vallance, Tom Wudl, and Jack Zajac.

Beginning on the museum’s main level, the exhibition tracked the progress of representational art from sobering, realistic images of suffering and death made in the immediate postwar years to the lively experimentation, questioning, and irreverence of the 1960s and 70s. A room was devoted to the work of Roger Kuntz, subject of a revelatory exhibition at Laguna Art Museum in 2009.

On the museum’s lower level, the exhibition continued with works selected and grouped to show the many directions taken by nonrepresentational art, beginning with a room devoted to one of its most vital practitioners, John Altoon. Further groupings highlighted the more controlled, geometric compositions of hard-edge abstraction, and the “finish fetish” of artists who worked with the materials of modern technology.

Laguna Art Museum’s official contribution to Pacific Standard Time, Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California, 1964-1971 (on display October 30, 2011-January 22, 2012), was a loan exhibition on a specific theme, the remarkable lineup of artists associated with UC Irvine in the 1960s and early 70s. In The Postwar Era, curators mined the museum’s own collection for works created in many different places and in a wide variety of styles. These works represented artists who have loomed large in other Pacific Standard Time exhibitions along with some who have been overlooked in this massive initiative.

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