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.



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

Noah Purifoy began organizing workshops for local youth at the Watts Towers Art Center in 1964. Working so close to Simon Rodia’s towers, Purifoy was struck by Rodia’s use of discarded materials to create a beautiful and inspiring environment in the midst of the socially and economically deprived Watts neighborhood. In the wake of the Watts rebellion in August of 1965, Purifoy and his colleague Judson Powell collected three tons of charred wood, scorched and twisted metal, and other rubble from the streets of the neighborhood. In this untitled, framed assemblage, Purifoy combined crushed metal, melted plastic and found objects, including a belt buckle and a bent piece of jewelry, to create delicate forms reminiscent of flower paintings or decorative carving. Informed by Purifoy’s professional training in social work and his strong belief in the healing power of art education, this work conveys a positive message in spite of the strife that generated its materials.

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  • Judson Powell, Noah Purifoy, and Sandra Corrie

    Judson Powell, Noah Purifoy, and Sandra Corrie in the exhibition 66 Signs of Neon, University of California, Los Angeles, 1966. Photo by Harry Drinkwater. Image courtesy of and © Harry Drinkwater