Explore the Era

Delve into the postwar Los Angeles art world in this online archive, which provides additional material related to the exhibitions on view at the Getty Center. Learn about hipsters and happenings, and the venues across the city where all the action took place through images from the archives and first-hand accounts with the artists.

From the Archive

Watts Towers

Simon Rodia's Towers (Watts Towers) in Los Angeles, 1967. The Getty Research Institute, Julius Shulman Photography Archive, 2004.R.10. Used with permission

The Watts Towers were constructed by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia between 1921 and 1955. Incorporating found materials, including glass bottles, broken ceramics, and metal fragments, the towers are a monumental example of American folk art and vernacular tradition. They have served as an inspiration to artists, especially those such as Betye Saar who use found objects to create collage and assemblage. In the 1960s and 1970s the Watts Towers Art Center, located near the towers, was an important gathering place for artists who were not represented by the city’s art galleries, especially when the center was run by artist Noah Purifoy for a short time in 1964.

Historic Map Locations

Works of Art

  • Untitled

    Untitled, 1966, Noah Purifoy. Mixed media, including debris from the Watts rebellion. 29 3/4 x 16 3/16 in. Private collection. Permission granted by the Noah Purifoy Foundation

  • The Phrenologer's Window

    The Phrenologer's Window, 1966, Betye Saar. Assemblage of two-panel wood frame with print and collage. 18 1/2 x 29 3/8 x 1 in. Private collection, courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY. © Betye Saar

Explore the Archive

  • Video: Betye Saar

    Video: Betye Saar speaks about her work, March 2011. Footage of the Watts Towers courtesy and © Over the Moon Productions