Hungry Eyes

Diana Zlotnick and Post-War Art in Los Angeles

Diana Zlotnick arranging artworks at home, accompanied by her family Photo: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA

A voracious collector, comm­­unity builder, and champion of emergent contemporary artists, Diana Zlotnick tapped into the Los Angeles art world at a particularly charged moment of post-war creative ferment. Today, the art milieu of the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s Los Angeles has taken on nearly mythic qualities, conjuring Bohemian fetes in canyons, the experimental openness of CalArts, Venice Beach warehouse studios, and, broadly, an explosion of material and conceptual inquiry through performance, sculpture, video, painting, publication, and more. Zlotnick immersed herself wholeheartedly in this atmosphere, led by fearless curiosity, dedication, and deeply felt connections to the works that she brought home.

Collect art that cancels out the rest of the world…—Diana Zlotnick, Newsletter on the Arts, 2013

Born in 1927 and raised in Los Angeles, Diana Zlotnick (née Shirley) attended Fairfax High School and would later support herself as a schoolteacher. She met Harry Zlotnick at a USO dance, and, after a whirlwind romance, the couple married on July 3, 1955. Being a schoolteacher was decidedly not Ms. Zlotnick’s calling, nor was being a dental hygienist (she flunked the program). Encouraged by her husband, who was able to support the family as a veterinarian, Zlotnick stopped working—and started collecting. With determination, savvy, and a healthy dose of chutzpah, she went on to amass an extensive collection from major artists as their stars were rising – among those who most captivated her were Wallace Berman, Chris Burden, Llyn Foulkes, George Herms, Channa Horwitz, Gloria Kisch, Ed Ruscha, and Richard and Shirley Pettibone.

There aren't many collectors like Diana Zlotnick, though there ought to be...Not content to play the passive art consumer, she quickly began circumventing the gallery system, approaching artists directly — visiting studios, exploring work in depth and developing real relationships.

Doug Harvey, L.A. Weekly, October 27, 2005

Andy Warhol

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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