Taking its title from the classic Bruce Brown surf movie from 1966, Endless Summer offers a snapshot of the hedonistic minimalism that emerged in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Alternatively called ‘Finish Fetish’ or ‘Light and Space,’ these works were influenced by the surf industry, custom car culture, and the climate of Southern California, and characterized by slick surfaces and dreamy, atmospheric colors. Distinct from the East Coast variant of minimalism that was emerging at the same time, the West Coast artists embraced new materials such as fiberglass, plastic, and resin instead of steel, iron, and lead, and they reveled in the vagaries of perception rather than objective facts.
Peter Alexander, for instance, is best known for his delicate wedges of translucent colored resin that taper off at their tops to blend with its surroundings. Craig Kauffman experimented wildly with vacuum-formed plastics and automotive paint to make works that merge painting and sculpture but also allude to commercial signage and customized car designs. Likewise, Billy Al Bengston borrowed his material palette of bent metal, high sheen paints, and stenciled symbols from hot rod culture to push painting into a new direction. Endless Summer features works from the MCA Collection, from artists including Larry Bell, Judy Chicago, Robert Irwin, John McCracken, and Ed Ruscha, to present a wide variety of approaches within this time and place.
(Photo: Ed Ruscha, News, 1970, © Ed Ruscha Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.)