Langsner, Jules, 1911-1967

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Jules Langsner was born Julius Harold Langsner in New York, New York on May 5, 1911. His family later relocated to Ontario, California around 1922 to start a small farm. The farm soon transformed into the Paradise Health Resort and became a place frequented by intellectuals and their families. In Ontario, he was introduced to the Pollock family, and became friends with three of their sons: Jackson, Frank, and Sanford. Langsner attended Belmont High School in Los Angeles, Calif., while many of his friends attended Manual Arts High School (also in Los Angeles). In his late teens, he became an advocate for modernist painting styles, including abstraction and surrealism. Langsner, then a budding poet, spent much of his time in Los Angeles as part of a young intellectuals group that included Phillip Goldstein (later known as Philip Guston), Jackson Pollock, Reuben Kadish, Frank Pollock, Sanford Pollock (later known as Sande McCoy), Leonard Stark, and Don Brown. When they weren't working odd jobs, Langsner and his leftist circle debated politics, philosophy and art. He was greatly affected by racism and anti-immigration and became interested in education and justice from a young age. He became interested in avant-garde painting while Kadish, Pollock and Guston were being mentored by Los Angeles artist Lorser Feitelson. Feitelson introduced the young men to post-surrealism, pastiche and film noir influences through his work.

Langsner enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles as a psychology major, then enlisted in the Army in 1944 as a social worker revising Rorschach psychodiagnostic charts. He remained in the United States for the duration of World War II. After WWII, Langsner continued to develop his professional and personal relationships in Los Angeles. He befriended a variety of artists and intellectuals, including artist and printmaker June Wayne, who would remain a dear friend until his death.

His curiosity and appreciation for art and artists in Los Angeles led him to pursue art writing and criticism. In 1948, Langsner published his first article in Art & Architecture, contributing periodically until 1963. Langsner's writing brought national attention to local artists, institutions, and topics. He promoted the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and other local art museums in multiple publications. In the April 1963 issue of Art in America, Langsner coined the phrase "second city" to describe Los Angeles in comparison to New York's art scene. In 1951, he published one of the first articles to embrace Simon Rodia's towers in Watts as a work of art. He promoted many artists, including Rico Lebrun, William Turnbull, Sam Francis, and Matsumi Kanemitsu. His ability to communicate with and befriend artists, as well as his ability to understand the subtleties of multiple styles, led him to pursue art curatorship. In 1957, Langsner was sponsored by the Ray Cardillo Travel Agency to visit art centers throughout Europe, and curated a Marc Chagall exhibit at the Pasadena Art Museum. Perhaps he is best known for curating the landmark exhibition "Four Abstract Classicists" in 1959, which included work by John McLaughlin, Frederick Hammersley, Karl Benjamin and Lorser Feitelson. It was in 1959 that Langsner and art historian Peter Selz originated the phrase "hard-edge painting" to describe the colors, shapes and style of abstract expressionist painting on the West Coast. His catalog for the exhibit became the criterion for the hard-edge school of painting. In 1961, Langsner was awarded a fellowship grant for advanced study in the fine arts from the Graham Foundation, and in 1964 was the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant for visual arts research. While traveling for his Ford grant, Langsner was in close correspondence with June Harwood, a hard-edge painter and in 1965, they were married. In 1966, Langsner organized and curated the first full-scale retrospective of Man Ray in the United States for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, establishing him as the pre-eminent art critic of the West Coast. Langsner died suddenly of a heart attack on September 29, 1967.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Jules Langsner papers, circa 1910s-1998, bulk 1950-1967 Archives of American Art
referencedIn Adams, Clinton, 1918-2002,. Oral history interview with Clinton Adams, 1995 Aug. 2-3 [sound recording]. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Reuben Kadish papers, 1851-1995 (bulk 1913-1995) Archives of American Art
creatorOf Erle Loran papers, 1912-1999 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Saltman, Molly, 1915-. Molly Saltman "Art and Artists" interviews, 1965-1966. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Oral history interview with Helen Lundeberg, 1980 July 19-Aug. 29 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Alvin Lustig papers, 1935-1955 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg papers, circa 1890s-2002, bulk 1919-1999 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Jules Langsner Papers, 1941-1967 University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, Clinton, 1918-2002, person
associatedWith Art in America [magazine] corporateBody
associatedWith Art Institute of Chicago. corporateBody
associatedWith Brice, William, 1921- person
associatedWith California Watercolor Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Canaday, John, 1907-1985. person
associatedWith Feitelson, Lorser, 1898- person
associatedWith Feitelson, Lorser, 1898-1978. person
associatedWith Feldman, Eddy person
associatedWith Feldman, Eddy. person
associatedWith Fine Arts Patrons of Newport Harbor. corporateBody
associatedWith Fogg, Adelaide person
associatedWith Fogg, Adelaide. person
associatedWith Ford Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith Guston, Musa person
associatedWith Guston, Musa. person
associatedWith Guston, Philip, 1913- person
associatedWith Harwood, June. person
associatedWith International Association of Art Critics. corporateBody
associatedWith Kadish, Reuben, 1913- person
associatedWith Lebrun, Rico, 1900-1964. person
associatedWith Loran, Erle, 1905-1999. person
associatedWith Los Angeles County Museum of Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Lundeberg, Helen, 1908-1999. person
associatedWith Lundeberg, Helen, 1918- person
associatedWith Lustig, Alvin, 1915-1955. person
associatedWith Macdonald-Wright, Stanton, 1890-1973. person
associatedWith Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith New York times. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Times corporateBody
associatedWith Pasadena Art Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Perls, Frank, 1910-1975. person
associatedWith Ray, Julie. person
associatedWith Ray, Man, 1890-1976. person
associatedWith Reuben Kadish person
associatedWith Saltman, Molly, 1915- person
associatedWith Santa Barbara Museum of Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Sweeney, James Johnson, 1900- person
associatedWith Turnbull, William, 2002 person
associatedWith Turnbull, William, d. 2002. person
associatedWith University of Southern California corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Los Angeles CA US
New York NY US
Ontario CA US
Bogota NJ US
Los Angeles CA US
United States 00 US
Subject
Art critics--Archival resources
Curators
Art historians--California--Los Angeles
Painting, Abstract
Art criticism
Painting, Abstract--California
Art historians
Curators--California--Los Angeles
Art critics
Art--Study and teaching
Art critics--California--Los Angeles
Occupation
Art museum curators--United States--Archival resources
Art critics--United States--Archival resources
Art critics
College teachers
Activity

Person

English

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