Exhibition runs December 12, 2015–February 27, 2016
Opening: December 12, 2015 2–4pm
4339 Leimert Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008
After growing up in the South and studying art in Chicago, John Outterbridge (b. 1933 Greenville, NC) moved to Los Angeles in 1963 and became a seminal figure in the California assemblage movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Like such peers as Noah Purifoy and John Riddle, he was deeply impacted by the Watts rebellion in 1965 and began to incorporate the detritus that littered the streets into his work. Raised in a community steeped in creativity as a part of everyday life and characterized by a strong ethos to save and recycle, Outterbridge has been composing sculpture from found and discarded materials and debris—including rags, rubber, and scrap metal—for more than 50 years. Also a committed educator and social activist, he cofounded the Communicative Arts Academy in Compton, where he was artistic director from 1969 to 1975 and was director of the Watts Towers Art Center from 1975 to 1992. The exhibition will focus on works made since 2000 composed of materials such as tools, twigs, bone, and hair—including a recent series called Rag and Bag Idiom—that recall ancient healing rituals or talismanic objects while also engaging in direct dialogue with the work of artists such as Edward Kienholz, Senga Nengudi, Noah Purifoy, and Robert Rauschenberg. A selection of key earlier works will also be featured, providing additional context for Outterbridge’s recent work. Outterbridge’s work was featured in several exhibitions in the citywide initiative Pacific Standard Time in 2011-2012, including the Hammer’s Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, and he had his most recent solo show in Los Angeles at LA><ART in 2011.
John Outterbridge: Rag Man is organized by Hammer senior curator Anne Ellegood with Jamillah James, assistant curator.
The Hammer Museum at Art + Practice is a Public Engagement Partnership supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.
John Outterbridge was born in Greenville, North Carolina in 1933. He studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago in the 1950s and moved to Los Angeles in 1963. In 1994 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Otis College of Art and Design. He co-founded the Communicative Arts Academy in Compton where he was artistic director from 1969 to 1975 and was director of the Watts Towers Art Center from 1975 to 1992. Outterbridge’s work has been included in several recent group shows, such as When Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American Self at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2014); the Venice Biennale, The Encyclopedic Palace (2013); Blues for Smoke at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2013); Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960-1980 at the Hammer Museum (2011); Los Angeles 1955-1985: Birth of an Art Capital at the Centre Pompidou (2006); Sao Paolo Biennale (1994); INSITE 94 on the border of San Diego and Tijuana (1994); 40 Years of California Assemblage at the UCLA Wight Art Gallery (1989). A survey of his work was held in 1993 at the African American Museum in Los Angeles and he had a solo exhibition at LAXART in 2011. In the 1970s and 80s, he showed with Brockman Gallery in Leimert Park and he is now represented by Tilton Gallery. In 2013 he was awarded the Governors’ Award for Outstanding Service to Artists by the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and in 2012 he received the California African American Museum Lifetime Achievement Award.