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Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s Hardcover – July 19, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805088369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805088366
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Rebels in Paradise recounts the story of how adventurous contemporary art developed in Los Angeles in the late 1950s, and how an ‘art scene’ took off in the city during the ’60s. Hunter Drohojowska-Philp is especially interested in the ‘scene’ part—how little-known artists joined together to form a cool cohort. . . . Throughout the book we get good stories, the kind that artists often tell one another over drinks, and that they or their friends shared with Drohojowska-Philp."—Michael S. Roth, The Washington Post

"This snappy, gossipy book is…more about artists than art. This is as it should be…The People-magazine-meets-modern-art tone might be tedious if it weren't for Ms. Drohojowska-Philp's way with capsule descriptions."—Peter Plagens, The Wall Street Journal

"More Vanity Fair than standard art history, it's an affectionate, deliciously gossipy account of the decade when a convergence of renegade artists, entrepreneurs, curators, collectors and writers put Los Angeles on the art world's map. Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, a longtime observer of the scene and a biographer of artist Georgia O'Keeffe ... has conducted numerous interviews and pored over oral histories, exhibition catalogs, books and magazines to compile a scrapbook-like story of the period's leading personalities .... Who knew that Eve Babitz—the 19-year-old nude who played chess with Duchamp at the Pasadena Art Museum—wore a size 36 DDD bra? Or that Gehry participated in a rock band of makeshift instruments by ringing a bicycle bell and pumping a toilet plunger in a pail? ... An entertaining, often insightful guide to the spirit of the scene."—Suzanne Muchnic, L.A. Times

"Brilliantly illuminated .... Drohojowska-Philp skillfully interlinks the art movement with news events and cultural milestones in film, fashion, novels, theater, and music, from Frank Gehry’s architecture to the Watts riots. Having interviewed many of the participants, she introduces David Hockney and others with in-depth profiles and colorful anecdotes. Recreating an electric era when the art world made an axis shift, Drohojowska-Philp successfully paints a Day-Glo image of those days when anything seemed possible."—PW, Starred Review

"Drohojowska-Philp has done massive research to compile this generous account of a movement and its movers—not just the artists (and their biographies) but many of the personalities and celebrities and hangers-on who enjoyed the decade-long whirlpool.... Comprehensive, educative and entertaining for eye, mind, imagination and libido."—Kirkus

"Rebels in Paradise has a light, almost breezy tone, but Drohojowska-Philp delves into thornier social issues as easily as she conveys the excitement of, say, the nearly simultaneous openings of Andy Warhol’s show at Ferus and Marcel Duchamp’s retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum…Los Angeles was an exciting place in the ’60s, and her book makes you wish you had been there."—Richard Kalina, Art in America

"Drohojowska-Philp’s extensively researched, highly readable text details the skeins of tribal relationships that bound the major artists who emerged in L.A. in the 1950’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s: Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, John McCracken, Bruce Nauman, Vija Celmins, John Baldessari, Ed Moses, and others, all photo-documented by the very much on-the-scene Dennis Hopper and many represented by the legendary Ferus Gallery."—Interior Design

"From the opening chapter. . . [Rebels in Paradise] defines that legendary space as the epicenter of SoCal cool. Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, who has written about the scene for decades, works in all the key figures, from the artists John Baldessari, Ed Kieholz, and Ed Ruscha to the crucial dealer Irving Blum, a seemingly omnipresent Dennis Hopper, and countless supporting collectors. This action-packed tome is the perfect preparation for next fall’s Pacific Standard Time festival of museum shows celebrating the Southland art scene in the postwar years."—Art + Auction

"An entertaining page-turner, and I couldn’t set it down. Drohojowska-Philp wanted to make sure these stories were not lost, and thanks to her research and smooth narrative, an earlier time is effectively brought to life. Anyone wishing to write a period history should read this book to see how it is meant to be done."—James Croak, ArtNet

"An affectionate account of how artists such as Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and David Hockney transformed the city by igniting a quest for artistic freedom that spread from L.A. to all of America. Drohojowska-Philp's new book is filled with art history that provides thoughtful insight into Marcel Duchamp's first retrospective, Andy Warhol's first exposition, even the Doors and Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider. Plus, Rebels in Paradise takes a page from TMZ and includes the juicy gossip of the artists' sex lives, love affairs and crumbling marriages."—Joe Lapin, LA Weekly

"Hunter's vivid and breezy drive through the brimming LA art scene of the Sixties will come as a revelation to those who as yet know nothing of that marvelous era, but perhaps even more so to those who figure they knew pretty much knew it all. As one of the latter, I kept on being visited by hunh! and ha! moments as Hunter merrily connected dots and filled in back story, generously lavishing both wide context and wry insight."—Lawrence Weschler, author of Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees

"You should read Hunter Drohojowska-Philp's Rebels in Paradise if you are interested in the art scene in Los Angeles in the Sixties, or if you are interested in any art scene for that matter (since they are all too mystifyingly similar). Ms. Drohojowska-Philp fleshes out the blank spaces, the back stories, the black stories and the vendettas accurately, but with benign confidence. In another tone, this would be an exposé. In Hunter's tone, it is well-meant reminder that the legend was, well, just that."—Dave Hickey, author of Air Guitar and The Invisible Dragon

"Hunter Drohojowska-Philp's breezy, fast-paced new book Rebels in Paradise brings to life many of the main characters in [Los Angeles’] art history, including Billy Al Bengston, Ed Ruscha, David Hockney, Larry Bell, Craig Kaufman, Dennis Hopper and Robert Irwin, among others…The accounts veer toward the gossipy, moving from intriguing detail to surprising revelation, without quite being lurid or lascivious. Indeed, despite the often humorous anecdotal accounts of the private lives of artists, curators and girlfriends, the book conjures both the sweep of history and its vicissitudes while grounding all of the stories in very specific places, from Brentwood to Pasadena, from the hills of Topanga to the beaches of Malibu in a way that makes you see parts of the city anew."—Holly Willis,

About the Author

Hunter Drohojowska-Philp is the author of Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O'Keeffe, considered the most definitive biography of the popular artist. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is a journalist and art critic for Artnet, ARTnews and the Los Angeles Times.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Hunter Drohojowska-Philp has long been one of the most reliable and articulate sources of art history in Southern California. Not that her purview is limited to Los Angeles and environs: she has written extensively for the best art journals in the country as well as the books 'Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O'Keeffe' (the definitive biography of this enigmatic artist) and 'Modernism Rediscovered: The Architectural Photography of Julius Shulman'. There probably is no better or no more reliable art historian about the emergence of the West Coast prominence in American art.

In this fascinating book the author not only interviews or reflects on those artists from the 1960s who made art in somewhat of a visual art wasteland - artists such as Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode, Jerry McMillan, Larry Bell, David Hockney, John Baldessari, Robert Irwin, Bruce Nauman, Judy Chicago among others - but she also sets the stage for understanding that particular fermenting period in Los Angeles. She shares both the artistic trends coupled with the growth of galleries and the eventual rise of the major museums of our current time (MOCA, LACMA, Geffen Contemporary, Armand Hammer, Japanese American Museum, etc) as well as the clangorous and notorious atmosphere that could only be described as Los Angeles' gestation phase.

Some of the daring events and artists that she discusses with great elan include the Andy Warhol premiere exhibition, the magical wildness of Frank Gehry, the 'guys' of 'Easy Rider' fame and their influence on both the development and the subsequent important collections of their confreres, and many sidebars of the spirit of the times that resulted in Los Angeles becoming one of the more important epicenters of art in the world.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By las cosas on October 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book centers on the Los Angeles art scene around the Ferus Gallery, with a shorter discussion of the Light and Space artists. And `scene' it certainly was. The Ferus artists socialized around the N La Cienega gallery, renting studios and housing in Venice and partied in the fringes of Hollywood. We are given short physical descriptions of each artist, his background and art. Then each is added to the social structure, or scene, of the ever enlarging cast of characters. We see them dancing in clubs on the Strip, drinking and generally carrying on. They fight, surf and have a great old time with their always `pretty' girlfriends who they marry and divorce. And the divorces are always very, very painful for these macho men. How all of this impacts the pretty women and their children they abandon is never mentioned. And we are told numerous times that their favorite topic of conversation is a derogatory term for women that Amazon doesn't want me to include in a review.

It is hard to separate my dislike for the glib and gossipy writing that never, once attempts to analyze the art from the unlikeable Ferus artists and their scene. No, this is solely a book about the scene, not the art. And for this reader, the scene, and the artists making that scene, is deeply repugnant. To take just the most flagrant example, the bar of choice for the featured artists and their scene is Barney's Beanery notorious for a large sign over the bar saying "f..gots stay out." [Again, Amazon doesn't want me to use the term, however used]. While this sign is mentioned more than once and even appears in a photo, there is no discussion of what it meant that the favorite hang-out was a notoriously homophobic establishment later serving as a potent symbol for the local gay rights movement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By yanks45a1 on May 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My girlfriend, who was into the galleries at Fullerton in the 60's wasnt that interested in the book. I should not have bought it.
She was more interested in Goth, Hippy, or other "odd" displays of art in the 60's.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By michael g. morris on August 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Amazing Book if you want to learn about the Secret History of L.A.'s Art Scene in the 60's or if your an Art History buff in general. Hunter makes it fun and rewarding to delve into this little known facet of L.A. Art Culture which is usually snubbed at by Art Elitists.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Takashi Teramaye on August 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in the development of the art scene in Los Angeles would certainly enjoy reading this entertaining art history in a gossipy sort of way. There are many up and down periods of the art scene in L.A. and I for one would like to see Hunter continue on to the 80's and beyond which includes the opening of MOCA which marks the coming of age of Los Angeles as one of the international contemporary art destinations.
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