Bruce Conner Psychedelic Works from “The Summer of Love” Go to Auction

November 18, 2014

For Immediate Release

November 18, 2014 

LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) is pleased to announce that eight hand-colored slides (c. 1967) by artist and avant-garde filmmaker Bruce Conner will go to auction March 1, 2015. Estimated at $40,000 – 60,000, this group of unique works—used for projections in Conner’s famed psychedelic light shows during San Francisco’s 1967 “Summer of Love”—will be offered on the market for the first time since they were acquired directly from the artist that year.

Acclaimed actor and artist Dennis Hopper once stated: “In my opinion Bruce Conner is the most important artist of the twentieth century.” While his mediums range from sculptural assemblage, to drawing, collage, and photography, Conner is best known for his idiosyncratic short films—so much so that he is often considered to be the father of the modern music video. The March 1, 2015 auction presents an opportunity to acquire rare works that define Conner’s visual legacy and encapsulate a significant moment in American counterculture.


 Bruce Conner, Group of eight unique hand-colored slides from light shows with the North American Ibis Alchemical Company, c. 1967, Estimate: $40,000 – 60,000
To go to auction on March 1, 2015 at LAMA

Originally created for light shows hosted at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom (the famous music venue which held concerts by the Doors and the Grateful Dead in the heyday of psychedelia), these eight hand-colored slides were projected on the walls to enhance the experience of the musical performances. In the late 1960s Conner started working for the North American Ibis Alchemical Light Show, a group founded by Ben Van Meter, creator of underground, experimental art films and light shows. The company was a collaborative effort between many artists, and they were responsible for background imagery during the now-legendary shows. Conner’s involvement allowed him to explore the idea of art as an experience beyond just the visual.

These slides by Conner offer a unique means of engagement with art beyond the static artwork. They manifest an art of experience—one that, depending on when, where, and with whom these art slides are projected, constantly changes, evolves and reveals new meanings and associations. Conner stated: “It was like a vast collaboration between the musicians and the light show…And the fact that the people who were there, the audience or people in the Avalon Ballroom, were also affecting what was happening just by their response…” These hand-colored slides are works to be actively experienced.

Speaking with an interviewer from the Smithsonian Institution, Conner later said of the 1967 light shows: “It more or less culminated all my work with motion pictures…Because I was working with two or three sixteen millimeter projectors in the same way. There was a whole bank of slide projectors with sixty slides in each: there were a dozen of those. And three strobe lights, and overhead liquid projectors [showing the random movements of heated colored oils]…It was like a 200 degree screen.”
The imagery on the slides is Conner’s personal interpretation of the mandala, the spiritual symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism that represents the universe. Similar works by Conner employing this motif can be found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Conner’s film transparencies and stills are held in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.


Lot Information:

Bruce Conner
Slides from light shows with the North American Ibis Alchemical Company (8)
c. 1967
Unique hand-colored print on acetate slide
Together with original receipts
Each: 2″ x 2″
Provenance:  Private Collection, California (acquired directly from the artist, 1967)
Estimate: $40,000 – 60,000

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Slides from light shows with the North American Ibis Alchemical Company (8) will go up for auction on March 1, 2015 in the Los Angeles Modern Auction (LAMA) Modern Art & Design Auction. Advance viewings begin February 9th, and the auction will be on February 22nd at 12 p.m. (PT). Visit or call 323-904-1950 for additional details.

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March 1, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction will be conducted at the LAMA showroom: 16145 Hart St. Van Nuys, CA 91406 and will start at 12 p.m. (PST).


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