Color lithograph on Rives BFK 1965/66 A/P XV Edition:100
19 x 19 in (48.2 x 48.2 cm)
Signed, lower right; GEL chop, lower right
John Altoon’s art education began in Los Angeles, where he attended Art Center College of Design, Chouinard Art Institute and the Otis Art Institute. It was his move to New York in 1950, however, that proved to be the catalyst for his development as an artist. He worked as a commercial illustrator for several years, simultaneously digesting Abstract Expressionism and the New York art scene. When he returned to Los Angeles, he brought Abstract Expressionism with him.
John Altoon drew attention through his paintings and drawings; his brash use of color grew out of Abstract Expressionism but matured into a unique visual language. His loose, calligraphic forms are idiosyncratic and, often,, scatological, suggesting a figurative yet ambiguous identity.
These paintings and drawings led to a Fellowship at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, 1965 – 1968 and to Gemini Graphic Editions, Ltd. These lithographs capture the essence of his drawing sensibility. Whimsical, masterly, colorful and bold, Altoon brought his story-telling powers into these works. His narratives provoked admiration, outrage and stimulation.
In the 1960’s, his work was exhibited at the Ferus Gallery, along with art by Craig Kauffman, Ed Moses and Edward Ruscha. He was part of the ‘younger’ generation, the avant-guard that encouraged national attention to the exciting new art and artists in California.