Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Side Note of the Spectacle

The Cool School; How LA Learned to Love Modern Art

In 2008 when the American documentary 'The Cool School' was first released it revealed the true nature of the beat era and the "visual-art wasteland" that existed before the contemporary L.A. art scene took off. 

'The Cool School' is part of the film season Dennis Hopper: Icon of Oblivion, created by the British Film Institute which started back on 2 July 2014. The last of this film series was 'The Cool School' which was offered at showtimes on Tuesday 22 July and the day I attended on Sunday 27 July 2014.

The movie itself is a tribe to many things in the evolution of contemporary art but overall it is a tribe to the creation of something out of nothing. This is referring to two forms of creation in the era. The from form of creation from nothing comes in the individual pieces of art work, where these newly liberated artists such as Ed Moses, Robert Irwin, Ed Ruscha and Ken Price all could create art from nothing. No money, no extensive studio, nothing except trash and forgotten objects for inspiration. Yet these artists created iconic works of art which will forever go down in history as an important step in the L.A. art scene. And this was the second way that these once unknown artists created something out of nothing. There was no popular art scene established in L.A. at the time. As mentioned before it was truly a "visual-art wasteland". Transforming L.A. into a focal point for the contemporary art scene when prior to that time it was as blank as canvas itself. These artist were able to inspire a generation of art collectors, transform an entire city and establish their historical importance on the west coast which rivaled any east coast city such as New York, which was once thought to be the source of the artistic world. 

The process that was required to establish an art scene was not easy but that didn't stop curator Walter Hopps who, along with Irving Blum, founded the Ferus Gallery. Hopps took it upon himself to create this new L.A. art scene and stated that there are five things needs for a thriving art city.

"1. Artists to make the work
2: Galleris to support it
3: Critics to celebrate it
4: Museums to establish it
5: and Collectors to buy it."

This movie is a Side Note from the typical British Spectacle that I have been accustom to analyzing. However it is important to consider all types of inspiration that have lead to the Spectacle and its visual appearance today. Crossing continents and Oceans this new found contemporary art has made its was into British society. Andy Warhol, who in my opinion was the god-father of pop art, started his career in the Ferus Gallery. And today, several photographs of Warhol are hanging in the Tate Modern. There is no telling which artists in the Tate were inspired by Warhol or which artists on the streets of Bricklane found inspiration in his soup cans but it is there, somewhere in the mess of it all, Warhol inspires, and Warhol contributes to the vision of the Spectacle. 

The Side Note, is without a doubt, an inspiration for the Spectacle. 

- C.L. London, England 682014

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