Not content to rest on his laurels as one of the greats of the Los Angeles art world, Ed Moses still makes art daily, outdoors at his Venice Beach studio. What’s more, Moses continues to attract attention. The survey of his work currently on view at the William Turner gallery in Santa Monica includes more than fifty new paintings, and last year LACMA drew large crowds of visitors with its show of his works on paper, Ed Moses: Drawings from the 1960s and 70s. Peter Loughrey, Director of Modern Design and Fine Art, joins us on the blog to talk about what makes Moses so extraordinary.
Billy Al Bengston
We tend to think of artistic creativity as a solo act. In the popular imagination, a painter or sculptor works alone in a studio, driven by singular personal genius. Several lots in LAMA’s February 21st sale of modern art, however, demonstrate how frequently art is the result of collaboration. Many of these are examples of technical cooperation. Others arise from friendly participation in a project. But a few works represent a true synthesis of creative minds. Of these, one name recurs: Frank O’Hara. LAMA’s upcoming auction features several collaborative artworks, including four pieces made in collaboration with O’Hara.
The house was buzzing at the May 17 auction when Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) realized prices identical to New York auction house results for similar works by Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso. The top lot was an impressive standing mobile by Alexander Calder that brought $826,250. Additionally, LAMA broke three world auction records for California artists (previously set by LAMA), proving it is the maker of markets as made evident with total auction sales for Sunday’s auction realizing $3 million, selling 119% of the 310 lots by value.
“We are continuing to show the marketplace that sellers no longer have to ship their modern art to New York to get the highest price,” states Peter Loughrey, director of LAMA. “Whether it’s $1,000 or $1,000,000, sellers can get the same price in Los Angeles.”
The Los Angeles County Art Institute, which became the Otis College of Art and Design, was at the center of ceramic’s evolution as an artistic medium in America. In 1954 Peter Voulkos became head of its ceramics department. He brought with him energy, strength and a bold streak influenced by Abstract Expressionism–all new elements for the discipline. The kilns at Otis College became the launching pad for the new ceramic artistry. Voulkos’s students and colleagues joined the signal artistic movements of the sixties and seventies.
From Peter Loughrey, Director of Modern Design:
Ceramics came into its own as a fine art form in the 1950s. Clay had been regarded as a second-class medium–more artisanal than artistic.
The crucible of that change was the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, in the ceramics studio headed by Peter Voulkos. LAMA’s May 17th auction includes a wonderful group of lots featuring the work of Voulkos and his colleagues and students–every significant artist at the heart of that revolution, including Paul Soldner, John Mason, Henry Takemoto, Ken Price, and Billy Al Bengston.
The locus of the avant-garde in the 1960s Los Angeles art scene could be found in the “clean white cube” occupying a small storefront on La Cienega Boulevard: the Ferus Gallery. Curator Walter Hopps and impresario Irving Blum nurtured Los Angeles’s first significant postwar artists between 1957 and 1966. The vanguard of the new art scene was comprised of members of this “Cool School”–among them Ed Moses, Billy Al Bengston, Ken Price, Joe Goode, Ed Ruscha, and Larry Bell–who often employed a stylistic combination of pop, hard-edged abstraction, and minimalism. Works by Moses, Bengston, Price, Goode, Ruscha, and Bell will be on offer May 17 at the Modern Art & Design Auction. LAMA is also pleased to offer more works on paper by key California artists: De Wain Valentine and Chuck Arnoldi. And opening May 10 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will be the first museum presentation of Moses’s 1960s and 1970s drawings since 1976. Check out Ed Moses: Drawings from the 1960s and 70s along with Drawing in L.A.: The 1960s and 70s at LACMA.
At the forefront of the late 1950s Los Angeles vanguard, Billy Al Bengston was a founding member of the “Cool School” art scene. In 1957 he took part in the Ferus Gallery’s opening group exhibition. A flamboyant character, throughout his career he consistently and defiantly changed gears, both by challenging and confirming methods of the new, the traditional, and the outré. His art world niche is derived from his innovative use of metals and sprayed lacquer; an obsession with surface and finish; and a rotating repertoire of motifs and symbols. Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to present five outstanding lots by Bengston, early ceramic mugs and paintings, in the upcoming May 17 Modern Art & Design auction.
Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to announce the inclusion of a work by Ferus Gallery and “Cool School” artist Billy Al Bengston, John (1966), in the upcoming February 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction. Los Angeles artist Billy Al Bengston’s slick, reflective paintings are the visual equivalent of a motorcycle roaring out of the shop, freshly detailed and shining. John is from the artist’s famous Canto Indento series, and bears Bengston’s signature chevron emblem in the center.
Today, I’d like to share some thoughts about the great Los Angeles artists Billy Al Bengston and Ken Price, their epic friendship, and how they are both children and fathers of the Southern California art scene.
This week LAMA was honored by a visit from Mr. Bengston and he retains the same wit and magnetism he carried so effortlessly 50 years ago. We’re honored to spotlight the legend of Bengston and Price.