BY ArtCoWo Press ©  9 - 20 - 16

The Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in the 60's sent shock-waves through the art world. They took a chance on Warhol when no one else would. New York wouldn't touch him.

It was the beginning of the end of the New York School's reign over the art market. Now Art dealer Irving Blum had the know how and guts to take a chance on a little known art form called pop art. His first victim was Andy Warhol. Warhola couldn't get an art show in NYC to save his life but Irving, after taking over creative control of the Ferus Gallery, reshaped the artist roster and took a chance on new styles not yet realized by the public.

Irving launched an exhibition of Warhol's soup cans but didn't sell one piece because he refused to break the set of works up. In fact five did sell but for very little and Irving got them back. The exhibit alerted the media in NY and LA that there was something new going on. Little did the world know it would be the predominate style of the 60's and early 70's. A gallery down the block made fun of the show by selling Campbell's soup cans for what they were selling for in the 60's, 27 cents. The rest of the media made fun of Warhol but he lapped it up and down played his genius. The "Cool School" was born and stole the spotlight from New York for a bit before Warhol went back to the legendary Silver Factory. Many famous artists were bred from the Ferus Gallery and others were not so lucky as to keep their fame, such as Llynn Foulkes who was thrown out of the gallery.

Pro-gallerist Leo Castelli bit his own tongue when Warhol became a household name. Castelli for years made or broke careers overnight but was extremely wrong about Andy. You will often here the New York praises of Leo the Lion but you will notice Andy's name is being re-written into that history. After Ferus' bloodletting trying to sell in LA and making Warhol famous, then Leo would have him, after the wounds of Blum and Hopps were severe and deep. But then again they didn't fair to badly, Hopps became a Museum Director and Blum skimmed the best work from Ferus including several Lichtenstein's and Warhol's as well as becoming the eventual full owner. But Ferus accelerated the language with artists like Bell and Irwin who bypassed New York.

Blum purchased the thirty two soup can paintings from Warhol for a thousand dollars and never broke the group up until he finally sold them intact to MOMA for fifteen million dollars. They are estimated to be worth over 950 million dollars based on recent auction earnings for a single Warhol painting times thirty-two. Now Irving is back in the spotlight because he recently sold another Warhol painting indirectly to the Broad Museum, unveiling it to the public. The torn soup can painting is one of the most unique pieces by Andy because it differs greatly from the clean aesthetic of the usual compositions he did. The early years of the Ferus created the LA art scene when it was nearly void. Walter Hopps was the original owner who brought the abstract expressionists from San Francisco to Ferus. His first wife recalled that people in LA were very put off by the art. Collectors were few and far between in those first years of the gallery and nearly nothing was sold but... they were making history.

FERUS GALLERY TODAY (Briefly a different gallery, now permanently closed) ON 736 A LA CIENEGA BLVD, WEST HOLLYWOOD 2016, ORIGINAL LOCATION    ARTCOLLECTORWORLD ©

Ferus survived for roughly nine years. Irving made brief partnerships before going private, meaning he nearly retired. When you have a couple Warhol's in your house you can borrow on that money pretty much your whole life. Those early years of collecting yielded massive results for art dealers and artists. However Irving finally moved to New York because of the lack of overall interest to the visual arts in Los Angeles. The Ferus Gallery as remembered by the stars Dennis Hopper, who was a regular patron, was over. Many of the original artists also slowly dropped out towards the end. Blum's suave character and chancy dealings put money in his pocket and stardom for artists that surrounded him. He was the quintessential art dealer. One of the main players to put LA on the map for art. Back in those days there weren't that many art galleries in Los Angeles. Where as today there seems to be new galleries in Los Angeles opening by the minute. Galleries in New York are tired of paying the big bucks when they can get a space for around a buck a square foot in tinsel town and the surrounding area.

The galleries in the LA area are in nearly every city. Some hidden gems and others are in trendy areas such as Main street in Santa Monica and Abbot Kinney in Venice. Downtown Los Angeles has also grown in the art department with the Art district and Fashion district sprouting new galleries. Artists, musicians and the creative class have also flocked to DTLA because it is a bit cheaper to afford.

Downtown is becoming a haven for start ups and artsy types as well, but not for long as the development of high rises are going up every minute and extending the city boundaries. This means the prices will soon be out of reach for artists, hipsters, musicians and development companies. Many gallery owners throughout Los Angeles are already grumbling about the rent hikes. But for now it still remains cheaper than New York and San Francisco so it has become the place to be for all things art related.

Ferus laid the ground work for Los Angeles. It paved the way for LA, because for a brief moment it stole the spotlight away from the NYC post-war artist's rule. It would become the stuff of legends in art history and LA history having the star power of Warhol gracing Hollywood with his magical touch. Frankly the artist's that would be born from Ferus, who were nurtured by it's white walls, did more for contemporary art in a shorter time than a hundred years in NYC. They knew they didn't have much time and gave it their all. Ed Kienholz pushed conceptual assemblage forward and shocked audiences with a one man show at LACMA.

Ed Ruscha pushed the boundaries of word art. Billy Al Bengston combined the motorcycle subculture and car culture to his clean military-like pop art. Larry Bell ingenious glass boxes where futuristic tellings of what art would be like fifty years later, John Altoon had a restless and chaotic energy echoing the abstract expressionists, Wallace Berman was a pioneer of conceptual art arrested at the Ferus on obscenity charges that were bologna, Craig Kauffman known for his contemporary forward-thinking works such as the "acrylic lacquer on vacuum formed plastic" pieces, Robert Irwin accelerated light art specializing in coving, Peter Voulkos elevated sculpture in terms of size and possibility which inturn influenced John Mason and Ken Price's ceremonious work and Ed Moses remains to this day the most experimental and chameleon-like artist of them all.

In January 2010, the Ferus Gallery once again reopened its doors at the original site at 723 N La Cienega in West Hollywood run by Franklin Parrasch Galleries of New York, which featured many artists from the original stable. Now nearly 60 years after Ferus was opened, the artistic landscape of LA has changed. Respected and admired by millions of patrons and matrons of the arts both young and old, there is a sense of growth and love for the city that sometimes gets overshadowed by it's Hollywood glamour. Art in LA endures and there is a new generation of art galleries and capable artists that are making LA the place to be for inspiration and prosperity. Ferus, Warhol and Los Angeles together launched pop art without the help from New York. New York picked up the bread down the line only because that is what they do best. Now new art forms and new cities are blossoming in the art world. Artists from all over the world are getting famous not by New York hands but by their own hard work, you ask who? Yunizar from Indonesia, Maneli Jodat from Iran, and William Grob from England are ones to watch.(SOURCE: THE COOL SCHOOL DOCUMENTARY: Morgan Neville, Kristine McKenna)

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