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Pomona College Museum of Art Presents "An Artist Conversation with Chris Burden and Thomas Crow"

Chris Burden, Untitled, 1967. Oil on plywood. 72 x 72 x 72 in. (180 x 180 x 180 cm). © Chris Burden. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Chris Burden, Untitled, 1967. Oil on plywood. 72 x 72 x 72 in. (180 x 180 x 180 cm). © Chris Burden. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Chris Burden, Untitled, 1966. Bronze. 6 1/2 x 5 in. (16.5 x 12.7 cm). Collection of the artist. © Chris Burden. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Chris Burden, Untitled, 1966. Bronze. 6 1/2 x 5 in. (16.5 x 12.7 cm). Collection of the artist. © Chris Burden. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Pomona College Museum of Art is pleased to announce an artist conversation with Dr. Thomas Crow and Chris Burden, on Saturday, March 24, at 3 p.m. in Pomona College’s Rose Hills Theatre (170 E. Sixth St., Claremont). The two will discuss the exhibition “It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973: Part 3: At Pomona,” as well as the era. The event will be followed by a reception at the Museum. The events are open to the public, and there is no cost to attend.

Chris Burden has had major retrospectives at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, California (1988) and the MAK-Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna (1996). In 1999, he exhibited at the 48th Venice Biennale and the Tate Gallery in London. In the summer of 2008, Burden’s 65-foot tall skyscraper made of one million Erector set parts, titled What My Dad Gave Me, stood in front of Rockefeller Center, New York City. Burden has two major installations on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Urban Light, 2008 and Metropolis II, which opened earlier this year to rave reviews from all ages. Burden has been represented by the Gagosian Gallery since 1991, and his installations and sculptures, which have been exhibited all over the world, have continually challenged viewers’ beliefs and attitudes about art and the contemporary world.

Burden earned his BFA at Pomona College in 1969 and attended graduate school at the University of California, Irvine. During the early seventies, Burden’s first mature works were characterized by the idea that the truly important, viable art of the future would not be with objects; the things that you could simply sell and hang on your wall.  Instead art would be ephemeral and address political, social, environmental and technological change. Burden, with his shockingly simple, unforgettable, "here and now" performances shook the conventional art world and took this new art form to its extreme. The images of Burden that continue to resonate in public mind are of a young man who had himself shot (Shoot, 1971), locked up (Five Day Locker Piece, 1971), electrocuted, (Doorway to Heaven, 1973), cut (Through the Night Softly, 1973), crucified (Trans-fixed, 1974), and advertised on television (4 TV Ads, 1937–77).

Dr. Thomas Crow is an art historian and art critic, best known for his influential writing on the role of art in society and culture from the eighteenth century to the present. Crow received a BA from Pomona College in 1969 and both an MA and PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. Most recently, his work has focused on modern and contemporary art and includes The Rise of the Sixties: American and European Art in the Era of Dissent (1996), Modern Art in the Common Culture (1996), and The Intelligence of Art (1999). He served as director of the Getty Research Institute from 2000 to 2007 and has held teaching positions at the California Institute of the Arts, the University of Chicago, Princeton University, the University of Michigan, the University of Sussex, Yale University, and the University of Southern California. He currently is the Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. Crow is a contributing editor to Artforum and served as an advisor to the “It Happened at Pomona” project as well as contributing a major new essay to the accompanying publication, “Disappearing Act: Art In and Out of Pomona.”

The exhibition “It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973: Part 3: At Pomona” demonstrates how Pomona College’s extraordinary community of artists developed some of the most important aesthetic currents of the late twentieth century. Both faculty and students forged shifts in artistic practice that transformed the potential of Light and Space work, Conceptualism, and Minimalism. Their articulation of these intellectual and aesthetic concerns prefigures much contemporary work today.

The years 1969-1973 equates with a renaissance in Pomona College’s arts community that can be traced to Mowry Baden’s 1968 arrival as chairman of the art department, where he served as professor until 1971 and which ended abruptly, in the spring of 1973, with the mass departure of the art faculty, including Helene Winer. They were protesting calls for Winer’s dismissal following the notorious Wolfgang Stoerchle performance seen in “Part 2.”

During this era, Pomona faculty produced an incredible variety of experimental work, including Baden’s interactive and performative sculptures, Lewis Baltz’s legendary Tract Houses photographic series, David Gray’s Minimalist lacquer and chrome sculptures, James Turrell’s first Ganzfeld experiments and flare performances, and Guy Williams’s acclaimed “Hatch” paintings.

Inspired by the faculty and the radical exhibition programs presented by both Glicksman and Winer, Pomona College students were also investigating the most cutting-edge artistic trends, including Michael Brewster’s explorations of the potential of light and sound as an artistic medium, Chris Burden’s transition from architecture to sculpture to performance, Judy Fiskin’s search for the photographic possibilities of vernacular architecture, Peter Shelton’s experiments with corrosion as a painterly medium, and Hap Tivey’s creation of perceptual Light and Space work that merged painting and sculpture.

About It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973

From 1969 to 1973, a series of radical art projects took place at the far eastern edge of Los Angeles County at the Pomona College Museum of Art. Here, Hal Glicksman, a pioneering curator of Light and Space art, and Helene Winer, later the director of Artists Space and Metro Pictures in New York, curated landmark exhibitions by local artists who bridged the gap between Conceptual art and postminimalism, and presaged the development of postmodernism in the later 1970s.

Providing unprecedented and revelatory insight into the art history of postwar Los Angeles, the project It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973 consists of three distinct, but related, exhibitions curated by Rebecca McGrew and Glenn Phillips—“Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona” on view August 30 to November 6, 2011; “Part 2: Helene Winer at Pomona” on view December 3, 2011 to February 19, 2012; and “Part 3: At Pomona” (studio art faculty and students) on view March 10 to May 13, 2012.

The catalogue for It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973 chronicles the activities of artists, scholars, students, and faculty associated with the College. Featuring interviews with Hal Glicksman and Helene Winer, archival reprints, and eighteen new interviews with artists of the era, the book contains 280 images. The catalogue is available for purchase for $49.95 through D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers and Artbook.com.

Support for It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973 has been generously provided by the Getty Foundation. 

The Pomona College Museum of Art (330 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA) is open to the public free of charge. For more information, call (909) 621-8283 or visit www.pomona.edu/museum.