Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in Southern California, 1951 – 1969

Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in Southern California, 1951 – 1969 focused on the legacy of two of Southern California’s leading venues for contemporary art since the 1940s: the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Pasadena Art Museum (known from 1941-1953 as the Pasadena Art Institute, and since 1975 as the Norton Simon Museum). These two institutions pioneered what is now perceptible as a common strategy—to exhibit the work of local artists living and active in Southern California—alongside the work of influential modern and contemporary artists from other parts of the United States and Europe.

This bold approach provided a solid foundation for the growth of contemporary art in the region and became an inspiration and model for a number of institutions that followed. This exhibition presented works by artists who were featured at one or both venues during these years, and who remain important to the current and continuing discourse in contemporary art in Southern California.

Artists in the exhibition included John Altoon, Karel Appel, Karl Benjamin, William Brice, Richard Diebenkorn, William Dole, Marcel Duchamp, Llyn Foulkes, Sam Francis, Philip Guston, Robert Irwin, Ynez Johnston, Ed Kienholz, Helen Lundeberg, John McLaughlin, Robert Motherwell, Lee Mullican, Larry Rivers, Richards Ruben, Mark Tobey, June Wayne, Emerson Woelffer, and Beatrice Wood.

This exhibition was part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980, a collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California—coming together for the first time to celebrate the birth of the L.A. art scene.

Lead support for Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in Southern California, 1951-1969 was provided by the Getty Foundation, with additional support from the Luria Foundation, Cyndee Howard, Jill and John C. Bishop, Jr., Anne and Houston Harte, the Community Events & Festivals Grant Program using funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, and The Museum Contemporaries of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

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