“American Society—Always Mostly Shallow And Reactionary”

Pacific Standard Time:  Art in L.A, 1945-1980 (PST)–the “unprecedented, six-month series of exhibitions detailing an era in city art history that has been largely untold” so says Los Angeles Times Art Critic Christopher Knight.  Knight’s statement raises an intriguing question though.  How could a city as large and culturally significant as Los Angeles have a 35-year gap in its rich back-story as an urban art incubator?  The J. Paul Getty Trust stepped forward at the beginning of the 21st century with a 10 million dollar scholarly initiative “to historicize the contributions to contemporary art history of artists, curators, critics, and others based in Los Angeles.”  Through 60 shows/exhibitions/installations housed in museums, university galleries and nonprofit spaces ranging from Santa Barbara to San Diego, from Santa Monica to Palm Springs, the inappropriate and very conservative template forcefully overlaid upon the Southland’s period art was finally removed! Through the Getty Trust’s initiative, Los Angeles’ curious and unorthodox iconoclasm emerged and was finally recognized.  Regarding the importance of PST to Los Angeles’ initial post WWII culture, Christopher Knight, the L A Times art critic stated:  “It recognized the wildness of individual personality and the social messiness of life, and it celebrated the power of heterogeneous hybridity over purity.”

PST stripped away the now tired notion that aesthetic progress is driven only by the concept of an avant-garde and, as a consequence, replaced the existing hole left behind by the vision of a “multivalent L. A. School which was an international cultural model for this new norm.  With luck, that’s the back-story Pacific Standard Time will clarify.”

What are your thoughts on the Getty Initiative to fund such a refreshing look at So Cal post WWII aesthetics for the period 1945-1980?

Alison and Andrew Perchuck, Deptuty Director of the Getty Research Institute at opening of PST, October 2011.