Police Blotter: L.A. County Museum, 1947

“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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