West Coast Artists at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

- January 27, 2012

“Judy Chicago, Richard Diebenkorn , Guy Dill, Sam Francis, Edward Ruscha…”

I have been following Pacific Standard Time (PST), an initiative of the Getty Museum surveying California artists and their contributions to 20th-century art, for some time now. This is an extraordinary effort to set the record straight about the importance of these artists and their work produced in California over half a century.

The dialogue about art in the mid- to late 20th-century was often dominated by the New York print media, especially the New York Times and the Village Voice (confessions of an ex-New Yorker?).  Steeped in that intellectual caldron, one might think that abstract expressionism, Pop art, color field painting, minimalism and all of the “isms” of art, came and went only on the west side of the Hudson River. Kinda like the famous Saul Steinberg cover for the New Yorker magazine that shows Manhattan in the foreground and after the Hudson River, virtually nothing – a vast wasteland. In the distance one can see a sliver of California and from the vantage point of mid-town Manhattan one can see China far off (Palin’s “I can see Russia from my house”).

So what about Richard Diebenkorn, Ed Rusha and so many other artists in the Golden State?  Just like other California-bound Americans of the past, these artists found fertile soil for their American Dream – in this case, for their artistic inspiration, and there they created work that was, and is, uniquely their own.

Starting today, January 27, Santa Fe’s Zane Bennett Contemporary Art presents an exhibition celebrating the significance of the LA art scene from the post-World War II years through the '60s and '70s, in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time. Artists included are Larry Bell, Richard Diebenkorn, Guy Dill, Sam Francis and Ed Ruscha. The show opens today from 5-7 p.m. to coincide with the Railyard Arts District’s Last Friday Art Walk and continues through February 17.

Artists in the show

Larry Bell (b.1939) produces work that addresses the relationship between the art object and its environment through sculptural and reflective properties. He is often associated with Light and Space, a group of West Coast artists whose work is based around the viewer's perceptual experience arising from interaction with the artwork. He lives and works in Taos and maintains a studio in Venice, California.

Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) Diebenkorn's early work is associated with abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His later work, best known as the Ocean Park paintings, brought him worldwide acclaim. Influenced by Clyfford Still, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning, he became the leading abstract expressionist painter on the West Coast.

Guy Dill is an acknowledged contemporary master of large-scale abstract sculptural work. His bronzes, while not figurative, often suggest the lines, curves and lithe swoop of bodies and of movement itself. Guy Dill presently works in Venice, California, and Brussels, Belgium.

Sam Francis (1923-1994) As one of 20th-century's leading abstract expressionists, Francis had a long and prolific career creating thousands of paintings as well as works on paper, prints and monotypes. His work references Color Field painting, Japanese art, French Impressionism and his own Bay Area roots.

Edward Ruscha (b.1937) is recognized for paintings incorporating words and phrases and for photographic books, influenced by the Pop art movement and the Beat Generation. The vernacular of Los Angeles and southern California landscapes have contributed to the themes and styles central to many of Ruscha's paintings, drawings and books.

See you in the Railyard!