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.

Noah Purifoy

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

Noah Purifoy (1917–2004) was born in Alabama. He moved to Los Angeles in 1953 to study at Chouinard Art Institute, where he was the first African American student to be enrolled full-time. The Watts rebellion in 1965 had a substantial impact on Purifoy’s work, inspiring him to organize Junk Art: 66 Signs of Neon, an exhibition that consisted of artworks made from the debris and junk that littered the urban landscape in the wake of the riots. Purifoy’s long career was marked with exhibitions at museums and galleries throughout California and the United States, even after he retreated to Joshua Tree, California, to make large-scale works for display on his compound in the desert.

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Works of Art

  • Untitled

    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

Explore the Archive

  • Watts Towers

    Simon Rodia's Towers (Watts Towers) in Los Angeles, 1967. The Getty Research Institute, Julius Shulman Photography Archive, 2004.R.10. Used with permission