It all began in L.A.
In the 1960s Los Angeles had one art museum and a handfull of galleries. Art collectors barely existed so it is a miracle that the Ferus Gallery opened, survived and became the successful cradle of avant garde art in Los Angeles. Today’s contemporary art on both coasts of the United States owes a lot to southern Californian artists who embraced the lifestyle and new materials made available through the aeronautical industry.
Ed Moses (1926 – 2018) had his first exhibit at the Ferus Gallery in 1958 and was a member of the “Cool School” together with Craig Kaufman, Billy Al Bengston, Robert Irwin, Edward Kienholz, Ken Price, Ed Ruscha, Larry Bell, John Altoon und Wallace Berman. He was born and raised by the ocean and lived most of his life in L.A.
Larry Bell (1939) was one of the youngest artists in the group and exhibited at Ferus in 1961. He is known as being part of the Light and Space movement. Until 2015 he had his studio in Venice Beach and now splits his time between there and New Mexico.
Joe Goode (1937) hails from Oklahoma City and traveled to Los Angeles and has remained in California ever since. After his first solo show in San Francisco with Dilexi Gallery, Nicholas Wilder gave him his first solo show in Los Angeles.
All three artists knew each other well as they all lived in close proximity to each other, followed each other’s progress and supported each other while watching the city and it’s suburbs grow in stature, culture and importance.
These three friends’ styles cannot be pegged in one box but one thing is clear, they were pioneers.
Ed Moses (y Branco) was full of ideas, curiosity and took constant risks. He worked daily, mostly painting, either inside or outside and his techniques were varied. In conjunction with his 2015 retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art he said:
“I realize that for a professional artist, being emblematic or having a signature style is important. But I don’t consider myself a professional artist. That’s someone who is responsible to the fact that this is a business enterprise…. Someone who asks, ‘What are my costs? What are my revenues? Who is my audience? Is this going to be acceptable to the audience?’ I always had this dumb idea that you are the visionary for the audience. You open their possibilities. You certainly don’t introduce your own thoughts, but you can introduce your discoveries.”
Three works on Mylar and one acrylic painting present Ed’s love of life and spontaneity. Larry Bell has been attracted by the medium of light on and through surfaces, respectively the perception of light. He developed a method of coating glass and other materials in a vacuum chamber where colors appear without the use of pigment. Paintings and collages in large and small formats are exhibited using this technique, a touch of pencil or gouache on the Fractions.
A 1989 painting from the Waterfall series represents Joe Goode’s love of the outdoors. Images and representation of emotions have fascinated Goode whose themes range from the iconic milk bottle on the porch (first presented in the 1962 exhibition New Painting of Common Objects, curated by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum (now Norton Simon Museum)) to fire, water, clouds, tornadoes.
The artists are represented in museum collections world-wide, including Los Angeles’ County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Hammer Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Museum of Modern Art, Jerusalem, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, etc.