Friday, Mar 20, 2009 - 11:01 am

San Diego, CA—The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) announced that the Getty Foundation has awarded the Museum a $225,000 grant to support research and planning for the forthcoming exhibition Phenomenal: California Light and Space. The project is one of 15 Getty Foundation grants announced October 29, totaling nearly $2.8 million. Previous grants to the project bring the Getty’s investment to $5.5 million, thus launching the largest collaborative project undertaken by museums in the region. This series of concurrent exhibitions throughout Southern California is called Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.

The exhibition and catalogue Phenomenal: California Light and Space will be the most significant in MCASD’s history, opening Fall 2011 and taking place in the museum’s multiple venues. “MCASD is extremely grateful for the Getty Foundation’s support and giving us this opportunity to collaborate with other Southern California museums on such a large scale. We are especially pleased to be further exploring the subject of Light and Space, as these artists have been of particular interest to this museum since the 1960s,” said Dr. Hugh M. Davies, The David C. Copley Director of MCASD.

In addition to MCASD, other institutions that received research and planning grants include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; the Hammer Museum; the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); the California African American Museum; the Orange County Museum of Art; Pomona College Museum of Art; the University Art Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara; the American Museum of Ceramic Art; Scripps College’s Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery; the Santa Monica Museum of Art; Otis College of Art and Design; the Long Beach Museum of Art; and the Los Angeles Filmforum. There will also be a major exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Each institution will have a distinctive exhibition, but all will focus on postwar art from 1945 to 1980 as part of the joint initiative.

“The exhibitions, and the events that will accompany them as part of Pacific Standard Time will demonstrate the pivotal role played by Southern California in national and international artistic movements since the middle of the 20th century,” said Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation. “Art institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego are joining together to create programs that will highlight the region’s vibrant artistic scene.”

Phenomenal: California Light and Space

Phenomenal focuses on the movement that began in Los Angeles and Southern California in the 1960s, fomenting many of the most vanguard practices engaging young artists today. Robert Irwin, Maria Nordman, James Turrell, and Douglas Wheeler are among a cadre of American artists who pioneered a distinctive approach to making art, defined by experiential existence and manifested in ephemeral installations.

MCASD was at the forefront in exhibiting these artists early on in their careers, often acquiring their works for the collection soon after their creation. The Museum houses collections and extensive archives related to these artworks and past exhibitions, and Light and Space has been an ongoing subject of deep interest for MCASD, reinforced most recently by the 2007 exhibition and catalogue curated by Dr. Hugh Davies, Robert Irwin: Primaries and Secondaries. This was an important preamble for Phenomenal: California Light and Space, which will be a major historical survey of a key period in American art and a singular moment in the development of art in Los Angeles and Southern California.

Organized for MCASD by Director Dr. Hugh Davies and Curator Dr. Robin Clark, Phenomenal: California Light and Space will not only present a range of extant pieces but also selected works borrowed from institutions and individuals in California and around the country. The Museum also will recreate a number of the artists’ site-determined or ephemeral artworks from the 1960s and 1970s, allowing them to be seen for the first time again since their creation. Many of these works are now known to scholars and artists only by photographic documentation or anecdotal word of mouth.

The format for the project will be, in a sense, a series of concentric “circles,” beginning with the core Light and Space artists, and extending out to the subsequent generations of American artists who were impacted by them. The exhibition will be thoroughly documented by a scholarly catalogue containing considerable original research. It will fill a present lacuna in the documentation and historiography of Light and Space, a subject that has not yet had the thorough examination of other influential movements of the 1960s and 1970s.


Project Support

In addition to the research and planning support provided by The Getty Foundation, the exhibition Phenomenal: California Light and Space has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Institutional support for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is provided in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.

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Founded in 1941, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the preeminent contemporary visual arts institution in San Diego County. The Museum’s collection includes more than 4,000 works of art created since 1950. In addition to presenting exhibitions by international contemporary artists, the Museum serves thousands of children and adults annually at its varied education programs, and offers a rich program of film, performance, and lectures. MCASD is a private, nonprofit organization, with 501c3 tax-exempt status; it is supported by generous contributions and grants from MCASD Members and other individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies.

Dr. Hugh M. Davies is The David C. Copley Director at MCASD.

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