PRINT Summer 1976

L.A. 1976: The Dark Underside

NO ONE MAY BE quite ready to scuttle the great myth the arts have lived by in contemporary culture—our conviction that (in R.P. Blackmur’s words) “creation is discovery” and our assumption that an inexhaustible treasury of new forms constantly remains to be revealed by heuristic processes of the mind. Yet there were indications this past spring in Los Angeles, just when renewal should have seemed most possible, that there is some weakening of the faith. Whether by coincidence or as a result of ineluctable forces at work, two related group exhibitions of recent Southern Californian art were running concurrently; though ostensibly based on antipathetic principles and though originating at opposite ends of the art-political spectrum, both shows managed to offer a disturbingly similar view of the state of the art in Los Angeles. Both reflected an inclination to recoil from modernism, and each

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