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.

Charles Brittin
Artist

Portrait of Charles Brittin, ca. 1960s. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11

Portrait of Charles Brittin, ca. 1960s. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11

Charles Brittin (1928–2011) was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1944, where he attended high school in the Fairfax district before enrolling at UCLA where he first discovered photography. While a student, he attended underground film screenings at the Coronet Theater and took pictures near his home in Venice and Ocean Park. He met Wallace and Shirley Berman in 1955 and began photographing their close circle of artists, musicians, and poets, who gathered at venues such as Semina Gallery in Larkspur, Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, and the Venice West Café in Venice. In the 60s, Brittin became more involved with political activism, joining the Campaign for Racial Equality and other movements.  He documented the social unrest that characterized the postwar decades, most notably the Artist Peace Tower (1966), constructed in protest of the Vietnam War.

Historic Map Locations

Works of Art

  • Business-card box for Charles Brittin

    Business-card box for Charles Brittin, 1957, Robert Alexander. Collaged box with medicine cap affixed. 2 1/2 x 6 3/8 x 3 7/8 in. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin Papers, 2005.M.11.27. Courtesy of the Temple of Man, Inc.

  • Business-card box for Charles Brittin

    Business-card box for Charles Brittin, ca. 1950s, Robert Alexander. Collaged box with key affixed. 2 1/4 x 4 5/16 x 3 15/16 in. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin Papers, 2005.M.11.28. Courtesy of the Temple of Man, Inc.

Explore the Archive

  • Video: Art of Protest—Artist Suzanne Lacy

    Video: Art of Protest—Artist Suzanne Lacy discusses the connection between art and activism

  • Video: George Herms on California assemblage

    Video: Artist George Herms shares anecdotes about the California assemblage community

  • Video: Lyn Kienholz on censorship

    Video: Arts advocate Lyn Kienholz talks about censorship in the L.A. art scene

  • Video: Video: Charles Brittin speaks about the Peace Tower

    Video: Charles Brittin speaks about the Peace Tower (Artist's Tower of Protest, 1966), November 2006

  • Artists’ protest poster

    Artists’ protest poster and manifesto, "Stop: We Dissent," 1965. Designed by Hardy Hanson. Courtesy of the artist. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.30

  • Suzi and Eddie Hicks, Charles Brittin exhibition, Semina Gallery

    Suzi and Eddie Hicks at Charles Brittin exhibition at Semina Gallery in Larkspur, California, 1961. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.24 © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • View of the Semina Gallery in Larkspur, California

    Exterior view of the Semina Gallery in Larkspur, California, with partial view of Charles Brittin’s exhibition. 1961. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.21 © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Robert Alexander, ca. 1960

    Robert Alexander, ca. 1960. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.20 © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Charles Brittin exhibition at Semina Gallery

    Installation view of Charles Brittin exhibition at Semina Gallery in Larkspur, California, 1961. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.19. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Showing a sculpture to the LAPD Vice Squad

    Wallace Berman and friends in the alley next to the Ferus Gallery showing a sculpture to the LAPD vice squad, 1957. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.10. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Wallace Berman's exhibition at Ferus Gallery

    Contact sheet showing images of Wallace Berman's exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, 1957. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.13. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photos by Charles Brittin

  • Wallace Berman's assemblage 'Temple'

    Wallace Berman's assemblage Temple in his exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, 1957. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.12. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Temporary closure sign at Ferus Gallery

    Temporary closure sign at Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, 1957. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers 2005.M.11.11. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Robert Alexander, John Reed, Wallace Berman, Juanita Dixon, and Walter Hopps

    Robert Alexander, John Reed, Wallace Berman, Juanita Dixon, and Walter Hopps in the alley next to Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, ca. 1957. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.9. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Wallace Berman in an abandoned building

    Wallace Berman in an abandoned building on the Speedway (an alleyway running parallel to the beach) in Venice, California, ca. 1955–57. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Susan Sontag at the Peace Tower installation

    Susan Sontag at the Peace Tower installation in Los Angeles, February 26, 1966. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11. Photo by and © Annette Del Zoppo

  • Panels at the Peace Tower

    Four young women looking at panels at the Peace Tower installation in Los Angeles, February 1966. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Peace Tower installation

    Peace Tower installation in Los Angeles, 1966. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.37. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Dean Stockwell and Wallace Berman

    Dean Stockwell and Wallace Berman at Stone Brothers Printing, 1957. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.18. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Wallace Berman with a copy of 'Semina'

    Wallace Berman with a copy of Semina no. 1 in the Stone Brothers Printing display window, 1957. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.17. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Wallace Berman and the LAPD Vice Squad

    Wallace Berman and the LAPD vice squad at Ferus Gallery, 1957. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.8. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • “Artists Against Escalation” protest

    “Artists Against Escalation” protest at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), May 16, 1965. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.32. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Protest outside Ferus Gallery

    Protest on La Cienega Boulevard, outside the Ferus Gallery, May 15, 1965. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Photo by Charles Brittin

  • Poster for the “Angry Arts” Against the War Peace Walk

    Poster for the “Angry Arts” Against the War Peace Walk, 1967. Designed by Hardy Hanson. Courtesy of the artist. The Getty Research Institute, Charles Brittin papers, 2005.M.11.31