Stephanie Barron on Billy Al Bengston

February 8, 2010

As you may have heard, last week we launched the Reading Room,  an online space devoted to the electronic publication of the museum’s catalogues. Our first selection of books focuses on the L.A. art scene of the 50s, 60s, and 70s—a real heyday for L.A. artists, galleries, and art institutions.

From the beginning, even as we were selecting which books to digitize, one of our biggest concerns was that we’d lose something deeply valuable by putting the books online, that the tactile presence of each of these great artifacts would instantly evaporate. One way to address that, we determined, was to show them in someone’s hands in order to give better context for their scale. We also thought it would be helpful to hear a thoughtful narrator describe what each of them meant as books and also as exhibitions. We asked Senior Curator of Modern Art Stephanie Barron to talk about the Billy Al Bengston exhibition from 1969. As Stephanie notes, both the catalogue and the installation were designed by friends of Bengston’s. And they’re not just any old friends…

Allison Agsten