Critics’ Picks

Roy Lichtenstein, Sock, 1962.

Roy Lichtenstein, Sock, 1962.



Gagosian Gallery
6-24 Britannia Street
September 12–October 19, 2002

In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Ferus gallery was the place for young California artists to show (its stable included Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, Jay DeFeo, Hassell Smith, Bruce Connor, John Altoon, Craig Kauffman, and Ed Moses, among others). Founded by Walter Hopps and Ed Kienholz and guided by director Irving Blum, Ferus also gave LA a look at what was coming out of New York—introducing the early work of Lichtenstein and Warhol, as well as Cornell’s boxes and Schwitter’s Merz paintings, into a space that regularly featured Finish Fetish sculpture. The gallery was a kind of HQ of cool, judging by a selection of Dennis Hopper photographs included in the show, as well as the fact that the artists who hung out there called themselves “the studs” (Womanhouse didn’t open in LA until 1972). Some of the work formalizes this hot-rod aesthetic, like Kauffman’s iridescent capsule-shaped sculpture and Billy Al Bengston’s spray-painted chevrons (his influence on today’s younger artists is immediately evident). Other gems, like the 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans, debuted by Warhol back in 1962, Kienholz’s stand-up cutout of Walter Hopps, from 1959, and Ed Ruscha’s Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, 1965–68, are just so good to see, alive and well.