LAMA BLOG

Light and Space Artist Peter Alexander Gives Shape to Sea and Sky

December 11, 2014

 Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Wedge with Puff (1968), Peter Alexander, Modern Art & Design Auction, March 1, 2015

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to offer two early sculptures from Light and Space artist Peter Alexander, Wedge with Puff (1968) and Green Sphere (Box) (1967), in the upcoming March 1, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction. An avid surfer since the age of 13, Alexander remarkably captures in his solid cast polyester resin sculptures the ephemeral effects of the Southern California sea, sky, and sunlight. Both pieces were acquired in 1968 directly from the artist, who had graduated from UCLA just two years prior.

Growing up in Newport Beach and inspired by his native city, the artist summed up his love of Los Angeles this way: “It had to do with the ocean. It had to do with climate. It had to do with the drive-ins. […] I don’t want to live anyplace else.” Alexander initially pursued a degree in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, the Architectural Association in London, UC Berkeley, and USC. While working under the preeminent modernist architects Richard Neutra and William Pereira, he realized that “architecture wasn’t for me.” His next move was to enroll in the art department at UCLA, where he would earn his BFA and MFA in 1966.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Wedge with Puff (1968), Peter Alexander, Modern Art & Design Auction, March 1, 2015

The lots on offer are prime examples of the work that led Alexander to prominence in the Los Angeles art world shortly after graduating art school. The gradient color in Wedge with Puff (1968), changing from pink to clear, reflects and refracts light to delightful effect—at a certain angle, light diffuses the top of the sculpture and the clear plastic seems to disappear, leaving an amorphous pink body. From another angle, a rosy lozenge looks to be suspended within the sculpture. Green Sphere (Box) (1967) contains a pale green sphere of mist that appears to float in space within the sculpture. These pieces capture the effects of sunlight and water that Alexander observed while surfing: “…these are not literal translations, they are sensual translations.”

Alexander’s work was included in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s landmark initiative of 2011, Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, and is held in public collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

References:
Alexander, Peter, Dave Hickey and Naomi Vine. Peter Alexander: In this Light. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1999. 19. Print.
Drohojowska-Philp, Hunter. “Translating Memories With a Light Touch.” LATimes.com. The Los Angeles Times, 16 May 1999. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.
“Oral history interview with Peter Alexander.” Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution, 13 Dec. 1995 – 8 May 1996. Web. 2 Dec 2014.

Lot Information:

Peter Alexander
Wedge with Puff
1968
Polyester resin
Together with copy of receipt from the artist
11.5″ x 15.25″ x 11.5″
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the artist, 1968)
Estimate: $7,000 – 9,000

Peter Alexander
Green Sphere (Box)
1967
Polyester resin
Together with copy of receipt from the artist
5.25″ x 6.5″ x 6.625″
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the artist, 1968)
Estimate: $7,000 – 9,000

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