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Nye + Brown

PLASTIC FANTASTIC
IN LOS ANGELES
by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
 
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The "Light and Space" and "Fetish Finish" artists from 1960s Los Angeles have recently found a New York champion in Tim Nye, who has exhibited their cast resin, molded plastic and coated glass works at his New York gallery and at the 2011 Venice Biennale as well. Now, Nye is bringing the coals to Newcastle, so to speak, by opening a gallery in Culver City with Lexi Brown, formerly of Happy Lion in Chinatown. The retro bright orange exterior of the gallery with its unconventional Nye + Brown neon sign are a welcome addition to a dreary stretch of South La Cienega Boulevard. The interior is dedicated to art that shares L.A.’s automotive enthusiasms.

The gallery's inaugural show, “The Lords & the New Creatures” is taken from the title of Jim Morrison’s 1971 book of poetry. The exhibition includes three generations of L.A. artists but its focus is largely on the artists that Nye has collected and included in his "Venice in Venice" at the biennale. Among the selections are large aluminum dentos by Billy Al Bengston, drawn in 2011 on material dating from 1967 ($50,000); Larry Bell's Flaw (1968), a glass cube coated in golden minerals ($150,000); a 2011diptych of acid green resin by Peter Alexander ($45,000); a wall-mounted cement column containing electric argon tubes by Laddie John Dill ($50,000); and a sky blue and sunset red triptych from 1974 by Ed Moses ($120,000).

Judy Chicago is represented by Bigamy Hood, (1968-2011), a car hood sprayed with particularly suggestive motifs ($350,000). More Los Angeles automotive sensibility is found in the 1999 Ed Ruscha lithograph of the street crossing of Melrose and Vine ($15,000), and Dennis Hopper’s Double Standard 1961 photograph of the gas-station intersection viewed through a car windshield ($20,000). Even John Chamberlain, who lived in Venice in the 1960s, is represented by Gondola Henry Miller (1985) for $950,000.

I suppose these are the “lords.” Maybe Chicago would be a "lady?" With more than two dozen additional artists, who are no doubt “the new creatures,” the show is not exactly focused -- but neither was L.A. in the 1960s. Or now, for that matter.  

For the digital catalogue, click here.

"The Lords & the New Creatures," Sept. 10-Oct. 31, 2011, at Nye + Brown, 2685 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, Ca. 90034.  

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP is the author of Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s (Henry Holt, 2011).