Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971

Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971

Ed Ruscha may have summed it up best in one of his little books of photographs, Thirtyfour Parking Lots – specifically the aerial photograph of that umbilicus carved into Chavez Ravine we know as Dodger Stadium (and its surrounding parking lots). (A little ironic that in this ‘origin of the world’ shot, it looks like an earthwork – which I’ll get to in a second.) But for a certain generation,1962 marked a point when L.A. became a physical center of gravity for contemporary art and the beginning of real conversations between East and West on many levels, including east and west North American coasts. Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery 1959-1971 tracks this conversation between the two cities and 20th century art movements – as moderated, curated, and (sometimes serendipitously) spearheaded by Virginia Dwan. Whether it was from L.A.’s minimalist ‘Nowhere’ city aspect, or simply a dearth of conversation, Dwan, who had studied art history at UCLA, saw a space where Westside ‘Cool School’ artists might engage with their New York peers. Her first shows exemplified east-west cross-over: John Chamberlain and Robert Rauschenberg met Ed Kienholz (naturally the ‘hottest’ of the Cool). She took on Pop before Hopps. More remarkable still was when Dwan reached across the Atlantic to bring Yves Klein to L.A. – a coup magnified when Jean Tinguely left Castelli to join her gallery; and Dwan was suddenly the American champion of French Nouveau réalisme. Dwan opened a second space in New York; and in vaguely Klein-esque fashion, the Minimalism followed close behind, as Dwan embraced Minimalists including Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt. But her greatest legacy truly spanned the continent – as she championed land artists and earthworks including, Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, which she personally financed. The show, which originated at the National Gallery of Art, has been elegantly installed by Stephanie Barron in the Resnick Pavilion to give full play to this dynamic conversation – amplified by an additional 27 works from LACMA’s own collection.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
  5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Show runs thru September 10, 2017