William Poundstone
William Poundstone on Art and Chaos

William Poundstone’s Los Angeles County Museum on Fire

Police Blotter: L.A. County Museum, 1947

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“The sunny Sunday calm of Los Angeles was shattered a fortnight ago when irate local artists and members of three art clubs stormed the steps of the imposing Los Angeles County Museum. They were vociferously displeased with the paintings chosen in the museum’s current show. Demonstrations of protesting artists are nothing new in the art world, but normally the protesters are ‘advanced’ or ‘modern’ artists fighting against being locked out by academicians. In Los Angeles, however, where normality is not normal anyway, the tradition was turned about. The museum protesters were a conservative group which turned out pretty, recognizable paintings. They were annoyed because the show favored what they called ‘radical’ and ’subversive’ art.…

“Three radio patrol cars rolled up to the museum’s entrance and a swarm of police waded through canvases of sunsets, mountain landscapes, pretty nudes and Chinese vases. They told the leader of the conservative group to get going.…  Some of the conservatives then went inside the museum and gave impromptu lectures on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art, choosing the bad examples from the paintings in the exhibit. By the end of the afternoon the museum’s director [James S. Breasted Jr.] had offered, as a conciliatory gesture, to expand the show next year, shrewdly suggesting that it be held somewhere else.”

Life magazine, June 18, 1947

(reproduced in the Pacific Standard Time catalog)

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  1. Ahhhh, the good old days when people actually gave a damn about art. I prefer that to this so called “dialogue’ we have today, and no one but art students and grads go to contempt museums, outside of the regular after hour patron cocktail parties and society page “fundraisers’ to promote their investments.
    Of course, there was actually something worth fighting about, not the neutered purse puppies we got today.

  2. Here are some classic great artist on artiste hate lines I got from my art attack critic and artist buddy William Wray.


    PC is for wimps and those who dont truly give a damn about art, just into an artsy lifestyle and careerist academic dogmas.

    Academic is Academic, its a personality type, standardized mediocrity and supporting the status quo by kowowing to the nouveau riche, the self absorbed “patrons” of the arts.

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