Observing Los Angeles

Art, artists and California’s ribbons of road


This piece above is a painting of a freeway made in 1966 by the artist Vija Celmins. "It’s a prime example of a California-based artist making work that engages the state’s famous highway system," arts journalist Tyler Green writes in a post for his Modern Art Notes column that considers other images, mostly photographs, by the likes of Richard Diebenkorn, Ansel Adams and Bruce Davidson. Here's some of Green's take:

For reasons that are probably obvious, California-based artists have had the same relationship with their state’s dominant infrastructure that New York artists once had with their city’s most famous landmarks, its skyscrapers. That relationship probably goes beyond the experience of the highways, but back into art history, to pictures of the first roads in the West by artists such as Carleton Watkins and various lesser lights.

As you scroll through the next 25 artworks, think about the freeways — but think also about how the artists whose work is featured below have used California’s infrastructure to make points related to their own interests.

Here you go.

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