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Ocean Park Series #8, 1962

John Altoon

American, 1925-1969
oil on canvas
81-1/2 x 84 in. (207.0 x 213.4 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Anonymous Gift
© 2011 Estate of John Altoon, Braunstein/Quay Gallery

On view

John Altoon came to prominence through his association with the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles in the late 1950s. In 1961, Altoon moved into a studio in Venice, California and soon after began working on the Ocean Park series, named after a local neighborhood. This group of 18 paintings, and several works on paper, was a departure from Altoon’s usual all-over style of painting, because he eliminated much of the background by leaving most of the canvas surface empty and began on a neutral field.

Ocean Park Series #8, although abstract and seemingly spontaneous, is actually a unique view of the California coast. Although painting on a two dimensional canvas, Altoon depicts a landscape’s depth in the way that the fore-, middle- and backgrounds are all included in the composition. Broad, gestural strokes reveal the yellow and orange rays of the sun streaming down over blue and white cresting ocean waves that crash onto the brown landscape on which green vegetation grows.

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