What does it take for a city to be recognized as a world class art center?
A strong and influential artistic legacy.
An expanding art scene.
New and emerging artists being recognized for their work.
Great institutions and alternative art spaces.
Important art schools.
Passionate collector base.
And does Los Angeles fit the bill? Based on the above the answer is a resounding YES. Los Angeles has all these elements AND increasingly the recognition of the world's most important collectors and curators as a dynamic, thriving, and growing art center.
(Story continues below this slideshow of Pacific Standard Time highlights.)
But Los Angeles has long been considered by many an important art center - the product of the work that great artists, schools, museums, galleries and collectors have invested in this city. Every few years it seemed that LA was on the verge of being recognized...not as a second city to New York, but as something unique and important in its own right. Over the coming days, weeks, and months that reputation will not just be confirmed but reconsidered through the concerted efforts of the many players that have toiled to foster this creative environment. While this all began with a Getty Research Institute initiative to catalogue art from the period 1945-1980, in classic LA style, it has exploded into something much larger. It is our shared hope that the confluence of events and exhibitions dedicated to Art in LA will cement LA's reputation as one of the world's great art centers while also helping to expand the audience for the arts within Los Angeles.
For that is the challenge: to expand the economy surrounding the LA art world to provide even more support to the innovative individuals, groups, and institutions furthering the reputation of this great city. I firmly believe that LA is currently experiencing a perfect confluence of events, interest, and activity - something equivalent to New York in the 1940s and 1950s, Paris in the teens and 1920s, or Vienna in the early 20th century. There is an energy here, something palpable and exciting.
While many in the global art world recognize LA's integral place in contemporary art, few have been able to truly experience the many facets of LA's art and history. The galleries and museums, sure. But the smaller alternative art spaces, the studios, the private collections - these visits are for the adventurous, the daring, the persistent, and the connected. The weekend of 30 September - 3 October is about to change all that with the launch of The Getty's Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, Art Platform - Los Angeles, and the other fairs opening in LA that weekend.
Opening the weekend of 30 September - 3 Oct, 2011, is The Getty's Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. This months long celebration of art in LA includes the participation of over 60 Southern California arts organizations and countless galleries, homes, and studios. With over 60 arts organizations opening exhibitions over the next several months all focusing on art in LA during this seminal period, there is an opportunity for us all to explore the many facets of art during this period. The opening weekend will feature the openings of Pacific Standard Time exhibitions at The Getty, The Hammer, LACMA, and MOCA, as well as countless other openings, lectures, and tours. The Getty should be applauded, and will be remembered, for not just spearheading this initiative but for providing seed funding for all 60+ exhibitions AND fostering an environment where these great arts organizations are cooperating to promote art from LA.
And that is what we all should be working towards: expanding the audience for art in Los Angeles. For as the art scene in Los Angeles expands it will require more and more resources to thrive. The collectors, museum, galleries, et al, have done a truly remarkable job bringing us to where we are now, but to continue on our current trajectory we will require even more. The great news is that LA artists are increasingly recognized within the international framework of contemporary art. And that recognition is coming more and more quickly. But if our local art economy is to truly endure it will require a commensurate growth of collectors and philanthropists from within Los Angeles.
New York's reputation as an art center begins in earnest in the 1940s with the interest in and media support for the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. It takes off, however, with the advent of Pop Art creating an art that is accessible to many and thus a palpable buzz within the city. This in turn expands the audience for art from New York...and especially amongst the financiers, captains of industry, philanthropists, and even librarians and postal workers. By investing in their own local art scene that world was able to thrive and expand and endure giving us the 1960s, 70s, and 80s with New York as undoubtedly the center of the art world.
But with recent history's inexorable march west - Vienna, Paris, New York - we now find ourselves in Los Angeles: a city without the encumbrances of a canon and maybe even without a traditional sense of history. Here there are no boundaries. The weather is good. The rent is cheap (or relatively). Yes, you have to work for your art - generally from behind the steering wheel of your car - but the rewards are great. In fact, there are collectors in this world that are not even from or living in LA that make regular trips to LA and have amassed significant collections of art from this city. If they can do it so can we. To be sure, LA has some of the most passionate and visionary collectors anywhere. In many ways it is them that we have to thank for what we have achieved. Right now LA is a great art production capital, but as this city begins to truly appreciate its own position in the art world we will be well on our way to become a great art capital.
So come to LA the weekend of 30 September - 3 October, 2011, or anytime over the next six months to immerse yourself in the past, present, and future of this great art city. And, if you live in LA, get out, investigate, experience...I guarantee that you will find something surprising, engaging, or transforming. It's a great city - full of surprises - and it seems we're finally ready for our close up.
Art Platform--Los Angeles