A Salute to the Ferus Gallery
The Norton Simon Museum presents A Salute to the Ferus Gallery, a selection of paintings, sculptures, and prints created by artists who exhibited at the celebrated Ferus Gallery (1957-1966). The Ferus Gallery was the brainchild of Walter Hopps, an art historian, and Edward Kienholz, an idealistic and controversial assemblage artist, who met in 1955 and envisioned a Los Angeles gallery that would encompass the best qualities of both alternative and commercial exhibition spaces. The Ferus Gallery generated considerable attention for the artists it exhibited, and its success was an indication of Los Angeles' increasing prominence in the international art world, as well as a sign of the demise of the singular dominance of New York in American art.
Two stylistic currents ran through the art exhibited at the Ferus Gallery. Artists such as Llyn Foulkes, John Altoon, Frank Lobdell, and Bruce Conner worked in a loose style, visually expressing the aesthetic concerns and interests of the "beat" generation. Their painterly, expressionisitc styles made use of biomorphic, organic forms and emphasized the physical aspects of the materials. Beginning in the sixties, and presumably in response to the "messiness" of abstract expressionism, Ferus artists such as Craig Kauffman, Larry Bell, and Robert Irwin began to simplify and pare down their work, while at the same time experimenting with new materials through which they could obtain immaculate finishes. Rather than drawing inspiration from the art historical past, these artists looked to popular culture, including th then prevalent custom car culture, producing a unique style known as the "L.A. Look."
Drawn from the Museum's permanent collection, the objects selected are representative of the art shown at the Ferus Gallery. Displayed alongside the works are a number of contemporary Ferus Gallery posters, borrowed especially for the exhibition.