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Asco, Termites y Guerrero, 1975. Performance view during Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), East Los Angeles, 1975. Photo: Ricardo Valverde. From “Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972–1987.”


VARIOUS VENUES · October 1, 2011– April 2012

WHAT IS THE STORY OF POSTWAR AMERICAN ART? When it’s told as a fabled West Coast–versus–East Coast matchup, Los Angeles is typically cast as a brash, vulgar upstart, pitted against a sleeker, more cosmopolitan New York. Familiar episodes are trotted out to emphasize an aesthetic of dazzle and doom ostensibly unique to Southern California—say, the early debut of Pop art, with Andy Warhol’s soup cans premiering at the Ferus Gallery in 1962; the finish-fetishists’ embrace of industrial luster; Chris Burden being shot in the arm. It has become a tired tale.

About a decade ago, in 2002, the Getty Research Institute decided to breathe new life into the study of local artistic practices. Building on its deep archival collections, it began a research initiative aimed at locating, preserving,

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