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Celebrating the Brand's purchasing power

A lightning rod of a show that has captured art history.

February 25, 2012|By Terri Martin
  • "Surburb," a serigraph by Robert Brown, is part of "Purchasing Power: Jurors Make Their Mark" at the Brand Library & Art Gallery in Glendale. (Courtesy of the Brand Library)
"Surburb," a serigraph by Robert Brown, is…

The Brand Art Gallery has put its own twist on “Pacific Standard Time,” the Getty Initiative that calls upon art purveyors to concentrate on artists who were active in the L.A. art scene from 1950-1980. Now at the Brand is “Purchasing Power: Jurors Make Their Mark,” an exhibition of 35 artworks from the Associates of Brand Library Purchase Award Collection, accrued between 1971-1980.

The 1971 maiden event was judged by modern and contemporary art superstars like Hans Burkhardt and Guy Maccoy. They were just the beginning of what was to become a legacy of preeminent jurors whose fine art fingerprints are all over this extraordinary accumulation of art. Many of them are, themselves, currently featured in the Getty’s larger project.

The Associates of the Brand Library have for the last four decades provided a foundation for artists to exhibit and compete for the Jane Friend Purchase Award, a coveted opportunity to snag a position in the Brand collection. Adding weight of the award throughout the years has been the caliber of the jurors who have participated.

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The first exhibition, “Brand 1,” was very controversial. Some were disgusted with the avant-garde selections by jurors, names that did not carry as much gravitas with the public then as they would today. In a March 1971 Glendale News-Press article, one visitor was quoted: “The judges should have been hung instead of the pictures.” Public resistance in the ’70s was fierce, but as the Brand collection grew over these 40 years, so did the public’s taste for modern and contemporary art.

The honor roll of jurors begins in 1971 with the Austrian-born Burkhardt, known for an intense expressionistic style. Maccoy is respected today as the father of the screen print and serigraphy, a technique that offered artists another way to produce multiple copies of their work. Both jurors taught and exhibited in the finest teaching institutions, museums and galleries around the world. By 1976, jurors also included Claire Falkenstein, whose sculpture and jewelry drew on an extensive artistic vocabulary.

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