War Babies & The Studs
War Babies & The Studs
12 February - 26 March 2022
Librairie Marian Goodman is pleased to present an exhibition investigating the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and 1970s. With works from a variety of media including paintings, collages, prints, and sculptures, as well as archival material,posters and rare publications, the show highlights the artistic practices of a generation of artists born in the 1930s, who knew each other as art students in Los Angeles: Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Ed Bereal, Vija Celmins, Joe Goode, Robert Irwin, Ed Kienholz, Ron Miyashiro, Ed Moses, Ken Price and Ed Ruscha. The title of the show, War Babies and the Studs refers to the names of two major and provocative exhibitions organized in Los Angeles in the early 1960s in which most of the artists took part.
In 1961 the War Babies exhibition was mounted at the Huysman Gallery, founded in 1960 by the curator Henry Hopkins. The four artists in the show, Ed Bereal, Joe Goode, Ron Miyashiro and Larry Bell all grew up under the shadow of World War II. Joe Goode, who titled the exhibition and masterminded its poster, intended to establish a point in time with the name, and to indicate a "sense of post-war internationalism”. War Babies was one of the earliest racially integrated exhibitions and challenged the stereotypical attitudes of postwar America. The exhibition's poster, on view at the Librairie, created a furor because of its exaggerated ethnic and religious clichés. It depicts the four friends seated at a tablecovered with an American flag littered with crumbs and cigarettes. Each of the artists posed with a stereotypical prop: Ed Bereal (African American) holds a watermelon, Larry Bell (Jewish) is eating a bagel, Joe Goode (Catholic) holds a mackerel, and Ron Miyashiro (Hawaiian-Japanese American) is using chopsticks.A selection of works and prints by these four artists will be on view including Ed Bereal’s mixed media painting, Untitled, 1966, and three early graphite on paper self-portraits, an early abstract silkscreen by Larry Bell entitled Lux III (silkscreen, mirror and canvas on board, 1971), lithographs by Joe Goode and several rare paintings from the 1960s by Ron Miyashiro.
In 1964, the other notorious exhibition of the 1960s in Los Angeles, called The Studs, took place at the Ferus Gallery, the epicenter of Los Angeles "cool," which had been open since 1957. The show presented works by the four prominent artists of the gallery: Ed Moses, Billy Al Bengston, Ken Price and Robert Irwin who was an influential teacher at Chouinard Art Institute and a mentor to several of the artists in this exhibition. In contrast to the politically involved War Babies, the ultra-masculine attitude of the Ferus Gallery artists was proclaimed in this group show they brazenly called The Studs. The exhibition poster, on display at the bookshop, includes an illustration of a pioneer unloading lumber from a horse-drawn cart, associating the four artists with frontiersmen. The "macho" attitude and the cultural dominance of this group of artists created a critical backlash in the 1980s, prompting a reevaluation of the L.A. art scene. Several works by each of the artists who took part in The Studs show will be shown at the bookstore such as The Alamo (yellow lacquer on aluminum, 1969), a “Dento” by Billy Al Bengston and Western Sunset (7-color screen-print, 1993) by Ken Price.
The exhibition also includes a selection of artworks by Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha and Vija Celmins. These three artists, although they did not participate in the War Babies or The Studs exhibitions, were working in Los Angeles at the same time and were well acquainted with the artists associated with the Huysman and Ferus Galleries. On view in the show at the Librairie, Crucifix (graphite and gold paint on paper, 1991) by Ed Ruscha, Untitled (Web 3), (1 color aquatint/drypoint, 2002) by Vija Celmins, and two “Barter” watercolors by Ed Kienholz, among other prints.
Several printed ephemera and rare artists’ books will be also displayed in vitrines, such as Heat Wave by Ken Price and Charles Bukowski, Billy by Ed Ruscha & Billy Al Bengston, Business Cards by Ed Ruscha & Billy Al Bengston, Robert Irwin: Pasadena Art Museum by John Coplans, Irwin’s first exhibition catalogue, and Babycakes by Ed Ruscha.