Artbound Presents The Works: The 60s in the 90s / KCET / 1992

Artbound Presents The Works: The 60s in the 90s / KCET / 1992


Produced by Ed. De La Torre, Melissa Totten, Bruce Yonemoto
Written by Melissa Totten and Bruce Yonemoto

00:15 ▶︎ L.A. Woman / The Doors / 1971

02:13 ▶︎ The Chelsea Girls / Andy Warhol / 1966

We have one or two pretty good scenes by those rare Warhol actors not raised in the home movie tradition. We have one touching sequence, in which a young man with a Prince Valiant haircut and lots of problems tells us how much people like him, and we know, and he knows we know, they don't. And beyond these brief good things, what else is there in the 3-1/2 hours that tells us Warhol was informed by an artistic purpose and was attempting a worthy and honest film? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. ➡︎

02:21 ◉ Mary Woronov

02:45  Ed Ruscha

04:06 ◼︎ Thirtyfour Parking Lots / Ed Ruscha / 1967

04:16 ◼︎ Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass / Ed Ruscha / 1968

04:45 ▶︎ Premium / Ed Ruscha / 1971

“Premium,” the better of Ruscha’s two films, began its life as a short story by his best friend, Mason Williams, who would later serve as a writer on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” (Tommy Smothers appears in the film.) Ruscha would adapt the story into an early artist book called “Crackers” in 1969, and the film follows the story pretty closely: An unnamed man (played by artist Larry Bell) rents a dilapidated hotel room and decides to make a giant salad on the bed sheets. Then he picks up a date (model Leon Bing) in a limousine, brings her to the room, and convinces her, after much prodding, to get in the salad bed. After drenching her in dressing, he realizes he forgot crackers. Leaving her in the room, he runs to his limousine, drives to store to pick up crackers, and goes home, where he eats in solitary peace. ➡︎

06:25 ✖︎ Ferus Gallery

"The artists in the scene were glamorous," Neville says of the group that became known as the "Ferus Gang." "They were good-looking men, they were surfers and beatniks and hard-living, hard-drinking, womanizing artists." And because there was no established art scene in Los Angeles, they were able to easily push past what elsewhere would be limits. "The advantage of being in L.A. was that there was no history in L.A. They weren't rallying against any kind of orthodoxy or art history or critical establishment because nothing was here, so [they] could kind of just invent it as they went," Neville says. ➡︎

Some of the original Ferus people had doubts about Ruscha, who was never really part of their macho, highly contentious fraternity. [...] “They thought he was too Pop-oriented,” Blum said. “But then the big paintings started appearing—‘Standard Station,’ and the Twentieth Century Fox one—and they came around.” ➡︎

07:46 ✖︎ Pasadena Art Museum

08:06  New Painting of Common Objects / Ed Ruscha / 1962

08:22  Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights / Ed Ruscha / 1962

08:46 ✪ Baseline perspective

09:45  Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas / Ed Ruscha / 1963

It has to be called an icon, that's the main thing about that painting. There is an implication in the thing that it has to be that way, and it sort of aggrandizes itself before your eyes like that, and that was the intention of it, although the origins were comic. First of all, I had quite a bit of fun doing the painting. ➡︎

“You know those movies where a train starts out in the lower-right corner and gradually fills the screen?” he asked. “The gas station is on a diagonal like that, from lower right to upper left. It also had something to do with teachings I picked up in art school, about dividing the picture plane. I didn’t really know what I was up to then, or what direction to take. I was just following these little urges. It was pure joy, to be able to do something like that.” ➡︎

09:57  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire / Ed Ruscha / 1965-66

“Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire” and several other Ruscha paintings of burning buildings are sometimes cited as evidence of a “dark side” in his art, but they don’t seem dark to me. My guess is that he really liked painting orange flames. The LACMA picture does give rise to thoughts about the city’s expanding cultural pretensions, though, and I asked Ruscha whether this had been part of his intention. Not really, he said. “I went on a helicopter ride over L.A., and took some Polaroid pictures of the museum from the air, and it just sort of went on from there.” But the fire? “Well, there’s always a little room for questioning authorities.” ➡︎

10:20  Ophelia / Sir John Everett Millais / 1851-2

In many Ruscha pictures, you are looking down on something—an oblique viewpoint he has favored ever since he saw, on his first trip abroad, John Everett Millais’s painting of the drowned Ophelia at the Tate, in London. Paul Ruscha gave him a reproduction of this picture, and it rests on an easel in the studio—a talisman of Victorian sentiment, and one of the few examples of older art that Ruscha cites, without irony, as an influence. ➡︎

10:50 ◼︎ Every Building on the Sunset Strip / Ed Ruscha / 1966

As a boy in Oklahoma City, delivering newspapers on his bike every morning, Ruscha had thought about making a detailed model that showed all the houses along his route, something he “could study like an architect standing over a table and plotting a city.” He never did it, but the memory led to his Sunset Strip book. ➡︎

Car culture makes its way into another of Ruscha's seminal photographic works: Every Building on the Sunset Strip. In the '60s, the Strip — a commercial stretch of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood — was the place to hang out in L.A. Ruscha saw The Doors play at the Whiskey a Go Go and he dug the street's flamboyant signage. "It just had a wavy, windy sort of look to it that I liked," he says. "And I just said, 'Well, I'll start here.' " ➡︎

Ruscha’s books can be seen as a triumph of the “huh?” factor. “Wow, all the buildings on Sunset fucking Strip,” John Altoon, the Ferus artist, marvelled. ➡︎

12:03 ◉ Rudi Gernreich

After escaping Nazi Germany with his mother in 1938, Gernreich's first job in America was washing bodies in a morgue before they went for autopsies. Later, he told Marylou Luther, “I grew up overnight. I do smile sometimes when people tell me my clothes are so body-conscious I must have studied anatomy. You bet I studied anatomy.” ➡︎

12:45  Peggy Moffitt

“I was a muse — and, I hope, amusing — to both those men, who inspired me equally,” she says, referring to Gernreich and Claxton, her late husband. “I was the conduit between the two of them. They both truly respected my criticism. I would say, ‘Rudi, come stand behind Bill. You're not seeing me the way the camera does.’" ➡︎

12:51 ◉ Bill Claxton

15:25 ▶︎ Basic Black / William Claxton /1967

In the future Claxton believes that even fashion magazines will arrive as rolls of film, which the subscriber will put into her own projector to bring the moving, twirling fashion to life on the walls of her house. The fashion catalog, he believes, is doomed to give way to the moving medium of film. ➡︎

18:36 ▶︎ Walk—Don’t Run / The Ventures / 1960

As a musical style, surf music can now be said to have originated in Memphis, Tennessee, which despite the lack of adequate tides on the Mississippi produced Roy Orbison’s “Domino”—characterized by shifting, “wavelike” rhythms and reverb guitar—in 1956. However, since “Domino” languished unreleased until 1973, most authorities agree the style can be effectively dated only to 1960, when the Ventures brought out “Walk—Don’t Run,” thus inaugurating a guitar-based instrumental mode of rock ‘n’ roll that became a staple in California dance halls. (While the connection between reverb guitar and surfing has never been precisely explained, many felt at the time that the propulsive yet “cool” rhythms of bands like the Ventures perfectly captured the sense of accelerating übermenschgeist surfers were believed to experience.) ➡︎

20:56 ▶︎ Pipeline / The Ventures / 1963

25:08 ▶︎ Wipe Out / The Ventures / 1965

29:18 ◼︎ Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies / Reyner Banham / 1971

29:52 ◼︎ City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles / Mike Davis / 1990

Much of the book, after all, made obvious sense. It explained the battalions of helicopters churning overhead, the explosion not only of gated subdivisions but also of new skyscrapers and shopping centers thoroughly and ruthlessly detached from the life of the street. Not to mention, looking back a few years after it was published, the seeds of the Rodney King riots. And in those sections where Davis manages to do without the warmed-over Marxism and the academic tics, a lot of the writing is clear and persuasive. ➡︎

What I tried to explain in City of Quartz is that the dark side of the city is also part of the advertisement for Los Angeles. It ceased to be any kind of antithesis to boosterism a long time ago. ➡︎

37:47 ◉ The Hittite Empire

46:51 ▶︎ Nobody Hears / Suicidal Tendencies / 1992

48:17 ▶︎ Institutionalized / Suicidal Tendencies / 1983

49:12 ▶︎ I’ll Hate You Better / Suicidal Tendencies / 1992

49:46 ▶︎ How Will I Laugh Tomorrow / Suicidal Tendencies / 1988

51:40 ◼︎ Los Angeles Notebook / Joan Didion

52:55 ◼︎ I’m pulled east from Santa Monica / Killarney Clary

54:37 ▶︎ Trouble Every Day / The Mothers of Invention / 1966


◼︎ Behind the Scenes of 'The Works: The 60s in the 90s' / Melissa Totten / KCET / 2014


◼︎ Review: Chelsea Girls / Roger Ebert / 1967

◼︎ Ed Ruscha's Foray Into Film / Craig Hubert / BlouinArtinfo / 2013

▶︎ The Gallery That Launched the L.A. 'Cool School' / NPR / 2008

◼︎ Ed Ruscha's L.A. / Calvin Tomkins / The New Yorker / 2013

◼︎ Oral history interview with Edward Ruscha, 1980 October 29-1981 October 2

▶︎ In Ed Ruscha's Work, A City Sits For Its Portrait / NPR / 2013

◼︎ Rudi Gernreich: Sartorial Feminist / Olivia Singer / AnOther / 2015

◼︎ The ’60s Style Icon Making a Foray Into Athleisure / Véronique Hyland / New York magazine / 2016

◼︎ Untitled / Bill Cunningham / Chicago Tribune / May 1967

◼︎ Real Life Rock / Greil Marcus / New West / December 1981

◼︎ Reading L.A.: Mike Davis, 'City of Quartz' and Southern California's 'spatial apartheid' / Christopher Hawthorne / Los Angeles Times / 2011

◼︎ Interview with Mike Davis / Joshuah Bearman / The Believer / 2004

Unfinished Sympathy / Massive Attack / Baillie Walsh / 1991

Unfinished Sympathy / Massive Attack / Baillie Walsh / 1991

Anthony Kiedis Celebrates Ed Ruscha / Wondros Global / 2013

Anthony Kiedis Celebrates Ed Ruscha / Wondros Global / 2013