LAMA set the world auction record for any work by Peter Alexander on March 5, 2017 with Untitled (1967) realizing $87,500, surpassing the previous world auction record for the artist set by LAMA in March 1, 2015 with Wedge with Puff (1968), Lot 13 in the Modern Art & Design Auction, realizing $68,750.
About The Artist
Light and Space sculptor and painter Peter Alexander was born in Newport Beach, California in 1939, and though stints for schooling drew him to Philadelphia, London, and Berkeley, he was ultimately drawn back to his home city and his muse. 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. It had to do with all the aspects of what constitute this a place. Even though I loved being in London and Philadelphia…it never occurred to me to live in any of those places […]. It's still the same. I don't want to live anyplace else.” Alexander initially pursued a degree in architecture, studying under architects Richard Neutra and William Pereira, but ultimately received his BFA and MFA from UCLA.
Alexander’s 1966 sculpture Cloud Box perfectly encapsulates his sentiments for his city in a cast resin polyester cube, pigmented with white. In this sculpture, the surfer-artist weds his love for art and environment into a discreet object that seems to capture the California sunshine and blue sky in a box.
In the 1970s, Alexander halted work on resin sculptures and dedicated himself to painting and drawing. His works from the early 1970s glowed with swirling orange and purple sunsets. In the late 1970s and 80s, he created a series of works using velvet, vellum, mosquito nets, and other mixed media. Inspiration came while on a fishing trip off San Clemente Island: “The squid moved into the light and underneath them was a school of glistening pink fish, and deeper still were sharks, who were swimming up to get the squid. The water was phosphorescing and there were two whales outside the arc of light blowing phosphorescence like fireworks. There was so much going on, and I knew right away what I wanted to do with the velvets, because of the blackness.” During the 1990s, he concentrated on his “LAX” series of paintings, depicting the glowing nightlights of Los Angeles from above.
Alexander returned to sculpture in 2009 upon his discovery of the possibilities of polyurethane and newer advances in polyester resin that avoided the pitfalls of yellowing and brittleness. These newer sculptures emanate light just as brightly as the sculptures he first created right out of graduate school. Alexander’s work was included in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s landmark initiative begun in 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; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
Alexander, Peter, Dave Hickey and Naomi Vine. Peter Alexander: In this Light. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1999. 19.
“Oral history interview with Peter Alexander.” Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution, 13 Dec. 1995 – 8 May 1996.