The Cool School: LA Art Scene Film

This video is from a PBS Independent Lens documentary about the Ferus Gallery that shaped much of the Los Angeles art scene in the early 1960s.  It’s short but it conveys some of the sense of LA’s wild, nervy, uncontrolled art attitude that is still in force today.  I love the zoom in on Andy Warhol who’s standing in front of one of his works and he just says, ‘Oh.’  LA still has that sense of offering the individual artist the clear opportunity to walk into a gallery, shake hands, say ‘How’s it going?’ and end up with an art showing a few weeks later.  It’s a city of entrepreneurs.  New York is a city of deeply knowledgeable and experienced people who understand that there is a system in place that’s been there forever.  That’s why people walk fast in New York.  They’re all trying to stay on schedule so the system keeps running.  In LA, everyone is throwing crowbars into the system and breaking it so that they can make their own.  The gallery scene in downtown LA is really interesting these days.  You can walk for blocks, stopping in at the galleries for a wide variety of offerings.  There are a couple of galleries that have copped an arrogant New York attitude and they are the ones I stay away from.  In general, you get a real feeling of the art being right there and totally accessible to you.  Everything is for sale.  The artists are interested in your money.  It’s very simple and healthy.  When I buy a piece of art in LA I feel like I’ve pulled a fast one on the art world somehow.  I feel complicit in something with underground tones.