Los Angeles County Museum of Art
left: Main Museum Complex, right: LACMA West, photos, ©1999 John Hazeltine
Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900-2000
Section 4: 1960 - 1980
October 22, 2000 - February 25, 2001
Section 4 of Made in California focuses on the period between 1960 and 1980. During these years, California, and particularly the Bay Area, became widely associated with non-conformity and anti-authoritarianism while it also evoked the political conservatism of Governor Ronald Reagan. The state's image came to be defined by a more diverse constituency, with the emergence of political voices from the Latino, African-American, feminist, gay, and other communities. Section 4 begins on the second level of the Anderson Building and includes four media stations: a documentary station on beach and car cultures, a slide and audio presentation on 1960s counterculture, and art stations on counterculture and the landscape. This section also features a large-scale model of the Chicano Park murals in San Diego. (left: Victor Ochoa, et al, Chicano Park murals, San Diego, photodocumentation of mural examples that are reconstructed in Made in California exhibition)
Many California artists of this period, particularly in the Southland, were immersed in car and beach cultures and integrated them into their art while also experimenting with new materials developed in the. aerospace and defense industries. The affinity between the arts and the popular culture and industries of the region is evident in the similarities between Craig Kauffman's vacuum-formed plexiglass sculpture Untitled Wall Relief (1967) and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's fiberglass Road AgentTM (1963), one of several cars included in the exhibition. This section considers how the automobile influenced and inspired California artists, from LACMA's infamous Back Seat Dodge '38 (1964) by Ed Kienholz, to Robert Bechtle's superrealist painting 67 Chrysler (1967), to Judy Chicago's Car Hood (1964) painted on the actual hood of an automobile.
Celebrations of California's natural landscape diminished in the arts in the 1960s and 1970s, although official promoters continued to romanticize the land and its development. Artists such as Roger Minick, in Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park (1980) addressed the commodification of the landscape in humorous terms. Others turned away from nature and drew inspiration from the domesticated landscape. British transplant David Hockney's paintings of pools, lawns, and sunbathers such as The Splash (1966) have remained icons since the 1960s. (left: Roger Minick, (b. 1944) Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park,1980, dye-coupler print, 16 x 20 inches, courtesy of the artist and Jan Kesner Gallery)
Unquestionably, the single most commanding aspect of California's image in the 1960s was that of counterculture. Events such as the founding of the Free Speech Movement on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, in 1964; the coalescing of hippie culture in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in the mid-60s; and the formation of the revolutionary Black Panther Party in Oakland in 1966 revealed an epicenter of potent new social forces that ultimately catalyzed profound changes in the nation and the world. David Hammons' Injustice Case (1970) is a haunting work that addresses African-American struggles for equal rights. The documentary materials presented in this section, such as an issue of the Black Panther newspaper urging the boycott of lettuce in support of the United Farm Workers, demonstrate that there were coalitions between various groups and ethnic communities in California,
The revolutionary new spirit - which inspired liberationist causes ranging from Chicanismo to feminism, and affected world events through the civil rights struggles and the anti-Vietnam War movement - was not unique to California. Yet much of that drive originated and found its most lively artistic expression there.
The so-called hippies, and other free spirits of the mid-1960s who congregated around Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco precipitated an "alternative" lifestyle that rapidly caught on in many cities, and even some rural areas, around the nation. Unlike the Beats before them, the hippies captured the imagination of middle-class Americans, especially its youth, who credited them with starting a sexual revolution that encouraged free love and with popularizing the use of marijuana and other hallucinogenics such as LSD and mescaline to "open" the mind. The visual art forms usually associated with hippie culture - psychedelic posters, album covers, comic books, and other graphic designs celebrating the hippie lifestyle or advertising outdoor gatherings called "be-ins" or "love-ins" - is fully represented in Made in California. So, too, is the work of painters, sculptors, decorative artists, and fashion designers influenced by hippie culture's embrace of unconventional media and libertine subject matter.
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