On View at the Getty Center: Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970
Billy Al Bengston’s exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in 1963 featured a number of large paintings that incorporated the artist’s signature chevron stripes, encircled with haloes of vibrantly colored lacquer. The titles of several works, such as Sonny, invoked Hollywood celebrities—“Sonny” refers to Sonny Tufts, an actor in the 1940s and 1950s. Other paintings included Buster (1962), as in Buster Keaton, and Busby (1963), referring to Busby Berkeley. These paintings were essentially abstract arrangements of colors and forms, yet Bengston’s use of recognizable symbols, his references to popular culture, and his use of materials and techniques associated with custom car culture, led many critics to label him a Pop artist in the early 1960s.