Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California

Louise Nevelson

If you’re not familiar with the Norton Simon Museum of Art by name, then perhaps you’ve seen its iconic chocolate bar Heath tile exterior as the backdrop to the floats of the Rose Parade as they round the corner from Orange Grove to Colorado Boulevard.

The Norton Simon is currently hosting Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California, the Pasadena arm of the comprehensive, Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980 that’s still engulfing art institutions in Southern California from San Diego to Santa Barbara. A Getty initiative, this collaboration spotlights the art scene in Los Angeles after World War II through the 60s and 70s. While artists like the Eameses or Ed Ruscha are expected (the Eameses’ living room has been recreated at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art!!), this monster show (68 major museum exhibitions, over 70 participating galleries) offers over 1,300 different artists and a myriad of mediums, existing like a living textbook of the time.

Proof tells the story of printmaking’s resurgence in Los Angeles after the War. Its key players, who included etchers, screen printers, and lithographers, among other types of printers, were all connected in some way that the exhibit illustrates via tidy bubble chart. It uses June Wayne and her Tamarind Lithography Workshop (on Tamarind Avenue in Hollywood) as the nucleus. The Norton Simon says, “Tamarind sparked a renaissance in the graphic arts—a revival that spread well beyond Los Angeles and the medium of lithography. In the next few decades, all methods of printmaking would be established and legitimized as viable and valuable forms of art making.” Artists featured include John Altoon, Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, David Hockney, Ed Moses, Lee Mullican, June Wayne, and Louise Nevelson (pictured above).

Curator Leah Lehmbeck narrates a podcast that is worth a listen. For more information, visit nortonsimon.org


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