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.

John McCracken

John McCracken in his studio

John McCracken in his studio in Costa Mesa, California, in the mid-1960s. Photo by Frank J. Thomas. Courtesy of the Frank J. Thomas Archives

John McCracken (1934–2011) studied painting at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California, though he was drawn to sculpture shortly thereafter. His first solo exhibition was at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery in 1965. In the following year, McCracken developed his plank sculptures, the works for which he is best known. These tall, narrow boards, reminiscent of surfboards with their highly polished surfaces and bold colors, are meant to be installed leaning against the wall. They relate to minimalist sculpture, as they do to the culture of custom-car painting prevalent in Southern California.

Historic Map Locations

Works of Art

  • For People Who Know The Difference

    For People Who Know The Difference, 1967, John McCracken. Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood. 120 x 20 1/4 x 3 1/4 in. Collection of the Mohn Family Trust. © The Estate of John McCracken. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York

Explore the Archive

  • Video:John McCracken

    Video: Interview with John McCracken, October 4, 2010, New York, NY. © 2010 Glenstone

  • Video: Jack Brogan

    Video: Jack Brogan speaks about working with Los Angeles artists, June 2011

  • An exhibition at Billy Al Bengston’s Artist Studio

    An exhibition at Billy Al Bengston’s Artist Studio, with works by Ed Ruscha, Peter Alexander, and John McCracken, 1970. Image courtesy of Billy Al Bengston