Billy Al Bengston b. 1934
Based in Venice, California, Billy Al Bengston burst onto the scene in the 1950s with his passion for motorcycle racing and art. Bengston was discharged from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1955 for depleting the clay supply. Following this exit, he enrolled at the Otis Art Institute to study under Peter Voulkos whom he later named as a significant influence, along with Richard Diebenkorn. Bengston found immediate success in the Los Angeles art scene, enjoying multiple solo shows at Ferus Gallery and a 1968 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His artistic output, mainly sculpture and painting, is informed by a variety of influences that range from his love of motorcycles and car-detailing techniques to recurring geometric shapes similar to those of Jasper Johns. Art historian Andrew Perchuck included Bengston among the "West Coast artists, including Robert Irwin and Ken Price, who were instrumental in redefining the terms of artistic identity in the early 60s by insisting that sub-cultural affinities and leisure-time activities (surfing, car customizing) were at the foundation of their artistic personas."
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