New York dominated the art world in the late 1940s-1950s but Los Angeles artists competed with their East Coast brothers/sisters in what was to become an art scene specific to Southern California. The Ferus Gallery and a group of artists represented by Ferus embraced materials, processes and a level of ultimate finish that took the art world by storm! Led by curator Walter Hopps and director Irving Blum, the Ferus Gallery quickly became THE avant-garde center in the visual arts for Greater Los Angeles. Among the leading Ferus Gallery artists were Billy Al Bengston, De Wain Valentine, and Helen Pashgian. These three Ferus artists pursued, in their own signature fashion, sensuous colors, beautiful, pristine surfaces, and innovative fabrication processes—often from the industrial world—to create seamless and bright, color-fueled works of art.
Bengston, Valentine, and Pashgian often blurred the so-called boundaries of mediums—i.e., painting and sculpture—in favor of renewed appreciation for handcrafted objects intimately connected to and tied to the rapidly advancing industrial production capabilities within the mass-culture that Los Angeles was fast becoming!
What are your thoughts on the Southern California artists who embraced Finish Fetish in their signature creative processes and intent? Looking at their work displayed in a gallery or museum, you become quickly aware of the incredible amount of craftsmanship involved, the time-consuming commitment to labor to achieve such perfect surfaces, and, in most cases, an appreciation for the manual dexterity displayed by these artists behind the making of these works. Ironically, none of their efforts of toil or struggle are visible as the surface glistens with a purity rarely seen. These three art objects really need to be seen in person, just saying!