Pacific Standard Time | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1945-1963. On view in the Rotunda from October 2, 2011 through January 15, 2012.

Artistic Evolution: Artists

Pacific Standard TIme

Pacific Standard Time is an unprecedented collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California, coming together to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene. Initiated through grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time will take place for six months beginning October 2011.

Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.



On view October 2, 2011 - January 15, 2012

Artistic Evolution is inspired by works that were shown at NHM when it was the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art, the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles. The Exposition Park museum historically played a crucial role in nurturing the dynamism and richness of the Los Angeles art scene. In the mid 1960s, art exhibitions were moved from the Museum to the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Boulevard, and NHM focused its mission on natural history.

Exhibition Background
The exhibit is a part of Pacific Standard Time, an unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, that brings together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California for six months beginning October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene.

The works on view in Artistic Evolution were shown in the context of the Museum’s "Annual Exhibition, Artists of Los Angeles and Vicinity" series and related contemporary exhibitions from 1945-1963. Artistic Evolution highlights the central role of the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art as a standard-bearer for contemporary art in Southern California in the '40s, '50s and early '60s. The exhibition offers a kaleidoscopic view of this institution’s role in shaping an evolving art capital, underscoring the significant contributions of Los Angeles artists to the mid-century art world, which endure to the present day.

Guest curated by art historian Dr. Charlotte Eyerman, Artistic Evolution includes paintings, drawings, and prints that shed new light on post-war art in Los Angeles, including works by local favorites who are not widely known today outside of Los Angeles, as well as historically important artists. The exhibition features works by John Altoon, John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Karl Benjamin, Tony Berlant, Hans Burkhardt, Lorser Feitelson, Frederick Hammersley, Robert Irwin, Ynez Johnston, Craig Kauffman, Rico Lebrun, Helen Lundeberg, Ed Moses, John McLaughlin, Lee Mullican, Mel Ramos, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, June Wayne, and Howard Warshaw. The works on view are on loan from the artists, private collections, galleries, and museums.

Artistic Evolution will be on view in the rotunda of NHM’s historic 1913 building, designed by Los Angeles architecture firm Hudson & Munsell. The 1913 building was recently restored and seismically strengthened, revealing exquisite details of the rotunda’s 58-foot dome and 20-foot skylight designed by Walter Horace Judson. The 1913 building is today listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

News and Reviews

New York Times' "A New Pin on the Art Map" by Roberta Smith Read Here>

Los Angeles Times' Art Review, by Christopher Knight Read Here>

Art Info's Ann Landi on Artistic Evolution: "The 27 works here neatly encapsulate the waning of old well as the birth of a new artistic generation." 
Read Here >

Hunter Drohojowska-Philp of KCRW's Art Talk visits Artistic Evolution Listen Here >

Frank Lloyd Gallery blog Read here>

The Hollywood Reporter's review of Pacific Standard Time Read the Story > 

The Art Muse blogs about Artistic Evolution Read the Blog > 

Pacific Standard Time in Frieze Read the Blog>

William Poundstone quotes vintage Life Magazine Read it Here >


Past Events:

Artists Panel Discussion

Thursday, October 6, 2011; 7 pm (watch the video)
Still Evolving: Art at the Natural History Museum, Then and Now

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, and Betye Saar were emerging L.A. artists. NHM exhibited the work of all three. The trio comes together for this occasion to share stories about the L.A. art scene past and present. Moderated by Charlotte Eyerman. 

Curator's Tour

Saturday, December 17, 2011; 11 am
Join Curator Charlotte Eyerman as she leads a tour of the critically-acclaimed exhibit, Artistic Evolution. This free tour will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.


Image Credits

(Top of page) 
Mel Ramos, The Atom, 1962. Crocker Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Thiebaud.  © Mel Ramos/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

(Artists Panel Discussion, left to right)
Betye Saar, Lo, The Pensive Peninsula,1961. Courtesy of the Artist and Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY. © Betye Saar.

Billy Al Bengston, Sophia, 1960. Billy Al Bengston, Artist Studio Holdings. © Billy Al Bengston. Photograph by Samuel Freeman.

Larry Bell, Rice Tea, Encino, ca. 1958-59. Collection of the Artist. © Larry Bell. Photograph courtesy of Alan Shaffer Photography.