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.

For People Who Know the Difference

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

McCracken began to fabricate his signature plank sculptures in 1966. He made them in his Venice studio by applying between 20 and 30 coats of automotive lacquer to a fiberglass-and-plywood body between 8 and 10 feet in length. Later, McCracken substituted the lacquer with colored polyester resin, poured horizontally to ensure a perfectly even surface, before he sanded and polished it to an immaculate shine. The whole process is very similar to that of surfboard manufacture. Conceptually positioned between painting and sculpture, the planks quite literally occupy a place in contact with both wall and floor. Indeed, these rectilinear sculptures came to define West Coast minimalism in the minds of many. But McCracken’s playful titles—such as For People Who Know the Difference—reject the absolute purity pursued by his East Coast counterparts, undercutting the seriousness of the works’ minimalist credentials.

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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

  • 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

  • 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