Lost at Sea, 1975, performed by Virginia Farmer, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles

Guy de Cointet, Man of Letters

Nicknamed "the Duchamp of LA," Guy de Cointet's enigmatic career expanded the parameters of the conceptual art movement that emerged from 1970s Los Angeles. Born in Paris, de Cointet lived in New York from 1965 to 1968, when he moved to Los Angeles to be Larry Bell's studio assistant. As Bell recalled, "[de Cointet] was a very eloquent guy but he was very private, very quiet. To pull anything out of him, you had to really go after him."

De Cointet's mysterious persona was likely seeded early — as a young man, he developed an interest in cryptography and the riddle-poems of French surrealist Raymond Roussel. As his practice developed, de Cointet continued to explore language through performance and drawing, incorporating random phrases and words gleaned from popular culture. Within his theatrical productions, de Cointet's paintings and art objects functioned as props for translating feeling and emotion to his audience. As Matthew Brannon wrote of this slippery triangulation of objects, actors, and audience: "We [can] fully understand that the art is not only not the props on the stage, nor the performance itself — but us. Us as an audience watching such a performance."

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