Bengston, Billy Al

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B. 1934.

From the description of Billy Al Bengston artist file. (Whitney Museum of American Art). WorldCat record id: 228432871

Billy Al Bengston, 1934-, painter of Venice, Calif.

From the description of Oral history interview with Billy Al Bengston, 2002 Aug. 7-Oct. 2 [sound recording]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81804702

Billy Al Bengston, b. 1934, Painter of Venice, Calif.

From the description of Oral history interview with Billy Al Bengston, 1980 Sept. 9. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 646397004

Painter; Venice, Calif. Born in 1934.

From the description of Billy Al Bengston interview, 1980 Sept. 9. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 220181762

Billy Al Bengston (1934- ) is a painter from Venice, Calif.

From the description of Oral history interview with Billy Al Bengston, 1980 Sept. 9. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 779476970

Painter; Los Angeles, Calif. and Hawaii.

Bengston was born in Kansas in 1934. He attended Los Angeles City College, California College of Arts and Crafts, and Los Angeles County Art Institute. He originally studied ceramics with Peter Voulkos. He had his first one man exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in 1958 and has since exhibited at a variety of galleries across the country, as well as on a regular basis at the James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles. In 1988, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston organized a major retrospective. Bengston has also held various teaching positions. He was also the founder of Artist Studio, a a gallery which showed primarily his own work and that of Ed Moses, Ken Price, and Ed Ruscha.

From the description of Billy Al Bengston papers, circa 1940s-1989 (bulk 1968-1988). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 220244658

Billy Al Bengston was born in Dodge City, Kansas on June 7, 1934. After moving back and forth from Kansas to California multiple times, he and his family settled in Los Angeles in 1948. While attending the Manual Arts High School, Bengston became interested in art, especially ceramics. After a brief stint at Los Angeles Junior College, Bengston worked as a beach attendant at Doheny State Beach. While working there he met fellow surfer and future ceramicist Kenneth Price, who became one of Bengston's closest friends. In 1953, he reenrolled in Los Angeles Junior College to study ceramics. For the next four years he attended both the California College of Arts and Crafts and the Los Angeles County Art Institute (now the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design). At these institutions he studied with Richard Diebenkorn, Sabro Hasegawa, Nathan Oliveira, and Peter Voulkos.

Around 1957, Bengston shifted his emphasis from ceramics to painting, and became affiliated with the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, founded that same year by Edward Kienholz and Walter Hopps. Bengston's first solo exhibition was held at the Ferus Gallery in 1958, and a second followed in 1960. At this time Bengston began to work with Pop icons combined with Color Field abstractions. His early bold paintings often featured symmetrical strong color compositions with a central image of a valentine, star, cross, chevron, or iris. The irises he called "draculas," after Kenneth Price remarked that they resembled Dracula flying through a window. He first showed his chevron paintings in 1962 at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York. In the early 1960s, Bengston extended his imagery to the California subculture and created paintings of leisure time activities, focusing on motorcycles, racing, and scuba diving - his own interests as well.

Throughout his career, Bengston experimented with technique and materials. He experimented with automobile lacquer and spray painting techniques associated with car customization. He also used non-traditional surfaces, such as masonite and aluminum. In 1965, Bengston began creating paintings on sheets of aluminum into which he hammered dents and sometimes bent and buckled; these subsequently came to be known as "dentos." Along with painting, Bengston has also created watercolors, ceramics, and furniture. He was also one of the artists selected by Carol and Roy Doumani to design their home.

Bengston first visited Hawaii in 1974, and after several subsequent trips, established a second studio there in 1979. The work Bengston created in the following years was characterized by the use of tropical colors and representational images of running figures, airplanes, and the moon. In 1988, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston organized a retrospective entitled "Billy Al Bengston: Paintings of Three Decades," which traveled to the Oakland Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Contemporary Museum of Art, Honolulu. Bengston also completed several years as an art instructor and lecturer at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and The University of California at Los Angeles. Bengston continues to create and exhibit new work.

From the guide to the Billy Al Bengston papers, circa 1940s-1989 (bulk 1960-1988), (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Byers, Margery. Margery Byers papers, 1962. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Irving Blum Gallery (Los Angeles, Calif.). Irving Blum Gallery and Ferus Gallery announcements, 1961-1972 [and undated]. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Irving Blum Gallery and Ferus Gallery announcements, 1961-1972 Archives of American Art
referencedIn Oliveira, Nathan, 1928-2010. Oral history interview with Nathan Oliveira, 1978 Aug. 9-1981 Dec. 29. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Bengston, Billy Al. Billy Al Bengston artist file. Whitney Museum of American Art, Library
creatorOf Bengston, Billy Al. Billy Al Bengston papers, circa 1940s-1989 (bulk 1968-1988). Archives of American Art
referencedIn Wallace Berman, 1907-1979 (bulk 1955-1979) Archives of American Art
creatorOf Bengston, Billy Al. Oral history interview with Billy Al Bengston, 1980 Sept. 9. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hopkins, Henry, 1928-2009. Oral history interview with Henry Tyler Hopkins, 1980 Oct. 24-Dec. 17. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Bengston, Billy Al. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn Moses, Ed, 1926-. Ed Moses interviews, 1980 July 10-12. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bengston, Billy Al, 1934- : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Mizuno Gallery records, 1955-2005 (bulk 1966-1988) Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Bengston, Billy Al. Oral history interview with Billy Al Bengston, 1980 Sept. 9. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Moses, Ed, 1926-. Oral history interview with Ed Moses, 1980 July 10-12. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Nicholas Wilder Gallery. Nicholas Wilder Gallery records, 1944-1984 (bulk 1968-1979). Archives of American Art
referencedIn Chanin, Arnold,. Photographs of Southern California artists / Arnold Chanin, photographer, 1969-2007. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hopkins, Henry, 1928-. Oral history interview with Henry Tyler Hopkins, 1980 Oct. 24-1980 Dec. 17 [sound recording]. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Moses, Ed, 1926-. Oral history interview with Ed Moses, 1980 July 10-12. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Betty Asher papers, 1860-1999 Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Bengston, Billy Al : Biographical file. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
referencedIn Oliveira, Nathan, 1928-2010. Nathan Oliveira interviews, 1978 Aug. 9-1981 Dec. 29. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Betty Asher papers, 1860-1999 Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Hopkins, Henry, 1928-. Henry Tyler Hopkins interviews, 1980 Oct. 24-1980 Dec. 17 [sound recording]. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Oliveira, Nathan, 1928-. Oral history interview with Nathan Oliveira, 1978 Aug. 9-1981 Dec. 29. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Bengston, Billy Al. [Billy Al Bengston] : artist file John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library, Ringling Museum Library
referencedIn Nicholas Wilder Gallery records, 1944-1984, bulk 1968-1979 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Bengston, Billy Al,. Oral history interview with Billy Al Bengston, 2002 Aug. 7-Oct. 2 [sound recording]. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Bengston, Billy Al. Billy Al Bengston interview, 1980 Sept. 9. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Billy Al Bengston papers, circa 1940s-1989 (bulk 1960-1988) Archives of American Art
creatorOf Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976. Wallace Berman papers, 1907-1979 (bulk 1955-1979). Archives of American Art
creatorOf Mizuno Gallery. Mizuno Gallery records, 1955-2005, 1967-1981. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Jacobs, Mimi. [Photographs of artists taken by Mimi Jacobs, photographer]. Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alexander, Peter, 1939- person
associatedWith Altoon, John, 1925-1969. person
associatedWith Andre, Carl, 1935- person
associatedWith Asher, Betty. person
associatedWith Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976. person
associatedWith Billy Al Bengston, person
associatedWith Byers, Margery. person
associatedWith Chamberlain, John, 1927- person
associatedWith Chanin, Arnold, person
associatedWith Diebenkorn, Richard, 1922-1993. person
associatedWith Ferus Gallery (Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Flavin, Dan, 1933-1996. person
associatedWith Goode, Joe, 1937- person
associatedWith Hopkins, Henry, 1928-2009 person
associatedWith Irving Blum Gallery corporateBody
associatedWith Irving Blum Gallery (Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Irving Blum Gallery (Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Irving Blum Gallery (Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Jacobs, Mimi person
associatedWith James Corcoran Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith John Berggruen Gallery (San Francisco, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Larsen, Susan C. person
associatedWith Lichtenstein, Roy, 1923- person
associatedWith Lichtenstein, Roy, 1923-1997. person
associatedWith Martha Jackson Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Mizuno Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Morgan, Susan Ford, person
associatedWith Moses, Ed, 1926- person
associatedWith Motherwell, Robert. person
associatedWith Nicholas Wilder Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Oliveira, Nathan, 1928-2010 person
associatedWith Plagens, Peter person
associatedWith Plagens, Peter. person
associatedWith Price, Kenneth, 1935- person
associatedWith Ruscha, Edward. person
associatedWith The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Wallace Berman person
associatedWith Westermann, H. C. (Horace Clifford), 1922- person
associatedWith Whitney Museum of American Art. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
California--Los Angeles
California
California
California
California
California--Los Angeles
California--Los Angeles
California
Subject
Art, Modern
Art
Art
Art galleries, Commercial
Ceramicists
Painters
Painters
Painters
Painting, Modern
Pottery, American
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1934-06-07

Americans

Information

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SNAC ID: 53551553