Betty Asher

Los Angeles Art Heroine

Betty Asher with Marcel Duchamp, 1963

Described as a "triple threat" by critic Christopher Knight, Betty Asher was a collector, curatorial assistant, and gallery owner credited with helping to develop Los Angeles's identity as a cultural hub. Asher moved from Chicago to LA with her husband in 1941 and began seriously collecting in the 1960s. She was especially drawn to Pop art and, during that same decade, she seeded her extensive collection of artist cups and saucers with the acquisition of several mugs by Ken Price. Many of those sculptural vessels are now in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where Asher worked as a curatorial assistant from 1966 to 1978. She left that position to co-found the Asher/Faure gallery with Patricia Faure, which opened in May 1979 at 8821 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. Among the artists Asher championed and collected were Bruce Conner, Joe Goode, George Herms, Ynez Johnston, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and Emerson Woelffer. Asher passed away in 1994 at the age of eighty, leaving behind a Los Angeles whose vivacious art scene she helped bring into being. 

Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol 1928–1987

Born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to an impoverished immigrant family, Andy Warhol became an icon of the Pop Art movement and one of the most prolific artists of his time. Though he suffered from physical ailments throughout childhood, he went on to study fine arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and shortly thereafter moved to New York in 1949. His career in commercial illustration took off creating whimsical designs for Glamour, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and The New Yorker magazines. In the early 1950s, he began exhibiting his work in the city and received his first solo show at the Hugo Gallery in 1952 featuring his earliest depictions of actress Marilyn Monroe.

The 1960s ushered in a wave of his iconic work pioneering the dialogue between high and low art. His screen printed, painterly images established his reputation commenting on popular culture with subject matter including celebrities, politics, advertisements, and parties. In 1964, Warhol rented a studio that became known as “The Factory” where his work was mass produced by a team of assistants. During the middle of the decade, Warhol focused on filmmaking and performance art, creating approximately 600 films. He later collaborated with musicians including The Rolling Stones and The Velvet Underground, published several books, produced televisions shows, and founded Interview Magazine in 1967. After experiencing a near-fatal shooting at The Factory, he became more reserved and his body of work shifted into commissioned portraits, and in his final years he focused on religious subject matter. Andy Warhol died in New York City in 1987 after facing postoperative complications.

A few years following his death, The Andy Warhol Museum was opened in Pittsburgh and in 2002 Warhol’s achievements were honored with an 18-inch stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

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