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.

Stage II

Stage II

Stage II, 1958, Karl Benjamin. Oil on canvas. 50 x 70 in. Collection of Louis Stern. © Karl Benjamin, courtesy Louis Stern Fine Arts. ©Photography by Gerard Vuilleumier

Stage II is a characteristic painting by Karl Benjamin with its bold use of color, interconnected geometric shapes, and clearly defined lines. Like many of his canvases, this piece displays a strong patterning that moves across the entire composition, creating a visual rhythm in color and form. Perhaps surprisingly, Benjamin’s complex geometric abstractions developed out of his early representational landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes. Working intuitively, he began to reduce the pictorial elements of his paintings to their most essential shapes and colors. The result was a vivid and dynamic body of abstract works that touches on the natural world, built environments, color theory, and optical play.

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Exhibition audio: Karl Benjamin and the Abstract Classicists

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Explore the Archive

  • Video: Karl Benjamin

    Video: Karl Benjamin speaks about his work, December 2009

  • Karl Benjamin with Andrew Perchuk

    Andrew Perchuk of the Getty Research Institute conducting an oral history interview with Karl Benjamin in 2010. © J. Paul Getty Trust

  • Abstract Classicists

    Abstract Classicists meet at Lorser Feitelson’s studio in Los Angeles, May 10, 1959

  • Poster for Karl Benjamin exhibition

    Poster for Karl Benjamin exhibition at the Esther-Robles Gallery in Los Angeles, 1964. © Karl Benjamin. The Getty Research Institute, Gift of Michael Asher, 2009.M.30.12