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Family in Death Valley, 1984

Llyn Foulkes

American, 1934-
Acrylic, oil and photograph on wood panel
24-1/4 x 25 in. (61.6 x 63.5 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Kati Breckenridge, Ph.D.
P.2003.08.3
© 2008 Llyn Foulkes

Not on view

After serving in post–World War II Germany, Washington-born Llyn Foulkes moved to Los Angeles in 1957 to study art. He attended the venerable Chouinard Art Institute and studied with Emerson Woelffer, whose refined sense of abstraction undoubtedly influenced the younger artist. Upon graduation, Foulkes turned his attention to collage. His sophisticated inclusion of found objects, photographs and text in his paintings led to solo shows at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1961 and the Pasadena Art Museum in 1962. By the end of the decade, Foulkes was creating the large-scale postcard paintings for which he is best known. During the 1970s, however, Foulkes turned his attention to portraiture, and it was not until the 1980s that he returned to the biting social commentary explored through his postcards. As in the earlier works, he employed text, images (often an actual photograph) and the familiar format of the souvenir postcard to undermine traditional beliefs associated with everything from the American family unit (Family in Death Valley, Postcard to Kati) to modern alienation (Speyer Rock, Skull Rock). Because they take aim at the broad social and cultural myths of modern American life, his paintings continue to resonate today.

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