Los Angeles

John Altoon, Untitled, 1965, ink, pastel, and airbrush on illustration board, 30 x 40".

John Altoon, Untitled, 1965, ink, pastel, and airbrush on illustration board, 30 x 40".

Los Angeles

John Altoon

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
June 8–September 14, 2014

Curated by Carol S. Eliel

In 1971, reflecting on John Altoon’s notability, Walter Hopps remarked that “anyone hanging around art in Southern California after the war had at least vaguely heard of Altoon, if they hadn’t met him.” The Ferus Gallery lion was as renowned for his giant personality as for his venturesome work. Yet if Altoon’s career was cut short by his early death in 1969 at age forty-four, he was an art-historical casualty as well: He was not, for example, included in the important 1981 exhibition “Seventeen Artists in the Sixties” at LACMA. The museum now offers a kind of belated recompense with Altoon’s first major retrospective, which will chart his considerable influence via seventy works (and, in the catalogue, testimonies from Paul McCarthy, Monique Prieto, Monica Majoli, Laura Owens, and Barbara T. Smith). Look for paintings that filter Abstract Expressionism through SoCal atmospherics and for drawings in which ribald phantasmagorias emerge from the liveliest of lines.

Travels to the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, Oct. 8–Dec. 21.