Billy Al Bengston: Rejecting the Stereotype of an Artist

At the entrance of Billy Al Bengston's home and studio is a poster of a Ferus Group exhibition titled "As a Public Service - THE STUDS". This word play was no coincidence, it had a purpose - besides attempting to create a west coast vernacular, the Ferus Group rejected the stereotype of the artist as tormented individual. Many like Bengston, Robert Irwin, Ken Price, and Ed Moses loved to surf, build, and ride motorcycles, which allowed them to create a new and different contextual foundation for their work. Paintings from Bengston, embraced his knowledge and love of motorcycles by incorporating the same materials - metal and automotive paint - in his work. In 1969, Bengston had a major retrospective in the newly built Los Angeles County Museum of Art, making him one of the seminal figures of the city's art scene.


On His Art
"Then you've got the illusion, then you can start working with space, then you can start looking at an object as an object, not an object as something to reflect the person who's going to buy it."


Walter Hopps and the Ferus Group
"The things that we did are things that people are emulating, doing today."


The Business of Art
"Once something becomes very expensive it loses its value because people are covetous. Once they're covetous, they don't see it anymore. They only see money."


A Trip with Ed Ruscha
"It was the most amazing thing I'd seen in nature. If you can't beat it, join it. So the idea was then to put it in my language."



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