Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980—a collaboration among 60 cultural institutions across Southern California—is a grand bazaar, as eclectic, wide-ranging, and uneven as the period of art it celebrates. Initiated by the Getty Foundation, which provided $10 million in grants, this effort engages venues of radically different scales and aspirations to focus on the evolution of the Los Angeles art scene in the decades after World War II. With nearly every institution in on the act—from major museums to university galleries—art takes on a fluid definition, naturally spilling into architecture and design.
Though Pacific Standard Time (PST) has no single unifying viewpoint, many of the shows suggest that artistic risk taking was free to flourish here, far from New York's and Europe's art establishments, because Los Angeles was not yet taken seriously in the art world. So boundaries were dashed, multiculturalism was celebrated, and experimentation became exuberant, spanning from performance art to sculpture made of light. Gritty street art with subversive undercurrents—focused on societal rifts, identity politics, the Vietnam War—also surfaced, as documented in Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974–1981, at the Geffen Contemporary at MoCA.