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The Cool School (WS) (2008)

Jeff Bridges , Edward Ruscha , n , a  |  NR |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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The Cool School: Story of the Ferus Art Gallery   $2.99 $9.99

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jeff Bridges, Edward Ruscha, Dean Stockwell, Dennis Hopper, Eddie Moses
  • Directors: n, a
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Arts Alliance America
  • DVD Release Date: July 29, 2008
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0019K4YQQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,923 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Cool School (WS)" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

THE COOL SCHOOL is an object lesson in how to build an art scene from scratch and what to avoid in the process. Narrated by actor Jeff Bridges, the film focuses on the seminal Ferus Gallery, which groomed the LA art scene from a loose band of idealistic beatniks into a coterie of competitive, often brilliant artists, including Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Craig Kauffman, Wallace Berman, Ed Moses and Robert Irwin. The Ferus also served as launching point for New York imports, Andy Warhol (hosting his first Soup Can show), Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein as well as leading to the first Pop Art show and Marcel Duchamp's first retrospective. What was lost and gained is tied up in a complex web of egos, passions, money, and art. This is how L.A. came of age.


All told and well told, this is essential history. - Nathan Lee, The Village Voice --The Village Voice

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beat, Jazz, Macho, Irreverent ...Art January 13, 2011
I found this documentary by chance. I'm thrilled that it exists. But it is kind of a disappointment. For a documentary about visual art, it's not particularly easy on the eye. And for a documentary about visual art, it doesn't include much discussion of art or even much art. The cover seems to promise an affectionate look at a handful of "cool" California artists (John Altoon, Craig Kauffman, Allen Lynch, Ed Kienholz, Ed Moses, Robert Irwin & Billy Al Bengston are the ones that appear on the cover photo, but the group also included Larry Bell & Ed Ruscha) that gathered together in the late fifties in Southern California and began creating art before Southern California had an art scene. But instead of foregrounding the half dozen or so "cool" California artists living in a boheme paradise & creating a new kind of art (which explored/incorporated/appropriated car culture & other industrial/commercial forms & contents, exhibited a frank anti-romantic attitude toward sexuality, and displayed an irreverence toward previous art history and toward NY art scene seriousness) the filmmakers foreground Ferus Gallery co-founders Walter Hopps & Irving Blum. These two may have provided the gallery space, but poverty and lack of attention from the outside world is what kept the group together; and the lure of fame & fortune is what tore it apart. That's the real story here, and the essence of their brand of California cool & detachment. If only the documentary had focused less on Hopps & Blum & the Ferus Gallery & more on the actual artists & art work & what relation the work had to Southern California culture/independence/attitude/cool this could have been a real masterpiece. There's a little of that, but not nearly enough.

The doc will be most interesting to those with an interest in the sociology of artistic collectives/movements.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Documentary. February 15, 2009
I was familiar with the artists and some of the work. I didn't know the bigger picture, however. This doc is informative, inspiring, and entertaining.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Length: 1:27 Mins
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Kristine McKenna and Morgan Neville's film aims to show us how "LA learned to Love Modern Art." They make their case via a singular focus on the troubled, erratic curator (the late) Walter Hopps and suave opportunistic gallerist Irving Blum and their joint venture, Ferus Gallery, in the early 1960s. The modern artists that LA learned to love include Edward Kienholz, Ken Price, Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston, Craig Kauffman, Ed Moses, John Altoon, Larry Bell and Robert Irwin. The strength of this documentary is the gathering of vintage photography and film from the Ferus "group."

"The Cool School," however, is premised on a false conceit, and merely repeats the 30 year old publicity-tinged received wisdom that LA crossed the threshold into embracing modern art with Hopps, Ferus and their stable only in the early 1960s. This anti-historical claim is easily overturned by consulting the real modernist art history of Southern California.

A-list Modernist art was being done in Southern California since the 1920s by such pioneering modernists as Stanton McDonald Wright; and during the 1940s by abstractionist Lorser Feitelson and his wife, the surrealist/abstractionist Helen Lundeberg. All three were active into the 1970s. Serious modern-friendly galleries included the Stanley Rose Bookshop and Zeitlin & VerBrugge on La Cienega Blvd. (later, LA's gallery row); other modernist galleries included Earl Stendahl, Frank Perls and the very notable Jacob Landau.

The post-war period saw the rise of artists like Rico LeBrun (arrived in LA, 1938 - and in 2012, still no retrospective exhibition!), his pupil Howard Warshaw, and the anti-fascist Hungarian émigré social surrealist, Francis DeErdely, who taught at USC.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cool down October 21, 2010
I love art, I love jazz, I love LA -- but I only managed to make it half way through The Cool School before I gave up and hit eject. The art looked abysmal... completely unappealing--actually not that much was shown, and maybe that was a blessing--and most of the artists came across in their interviews as a bunch of self-inflated egos -- so full of themselves that it became insufferable. Nevertheless, that is no fault of the documentary maker, and the film itself is well done. Marcel Duchamp was shown a little, but did the film makers mention Man Ray's presence in LA for a numbers of years before the LA art scene got rolling and that got Duchamp to LA to begin with? No; and Man Ray and was probably the best artist in LA before going back to Paris. If I'd like the art better or could get past the artists who were trying so hard to be somebody, maybe I would have gotten through the entire film. But I simply got fed up watching interviews with people who struck me as inferior talents with an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
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