Is American painting dead? For the art critic of the Los Angeles Times, it's a question only a New Yorker could ask. In LA painting has been the dominant medium for more than half a century, as a new exhibition, Birth of the Cool, makes clear. From pioneers like Ed Ruscha and John McLaughlin to a younger generation showing in the city's Chinatown, the allegedly embattled medium is thriving.
In the 1970s, "what actually was dying was not painting but its complement—a provincial enslavement to the primacy of the New York School," writes Christopher Knight. And with Los Angeles galleries flogging ever more canvases and a new biennial of local paintings this January, Tinseltown continues to reassert the medium's vitality. To theoretically inclined art critics who still sound painting's death knell, Knight says, "What century is this?"