Untitled, Ethnic Heritage Series

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
    Tilton Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    New York, Tilton Gallery, John Outterbridge, October 23 - December 21, 2012

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born 1933, Greenville, NC
    Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA

    1994 Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA
    1970 State of California Teaching Credential
    1956-59 The American Academy of Art, Chicago, IL

    Selected honors: California African American Museum Lifetime Achievement Award (2012); Artists’ Legacy Foundation Award (2010); J. Paul Getty Fellowship for the Visual Arts. (1994); National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. (1994); Fulbright Fellowship (1988)
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO; Watts Towers Art Center, Los Angeles, CA; California Afro-American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
    Selected public collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art

    A key artist of the Californian assemblage movement, John Outterbridge pursued his path as an artist at a time when very few opportunities were available for African Americans artists in the United States. Born in Depression-era Jim Crow South, Outterbridge felt drawn to art making from an early age. “It started with me very early on: the feeling,” he said. “I just had a natural knack for the creative momentum…So many other people did, too, but we didn’t have any opportunity to take it outside of ourselves.” A gifted painter, Outterbridge was able to secure a place at the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 1956 and in 1963 relocated to Los Angeles, which served as the ideal environment for him to develop his assemblage practice.

    “It seems that we all assemble notions, directives, disciplines, disappointments,” Outterbridge stated. “We put all these things together as we seek a mode of expression and a way to live." Outterbridge developed a fascination with the aesthetic of assemblage from early on, his father being a hauler and mover who salvaged junk and used goods in their backyard. Assemblage offered him the visual means to explore heritage and tradition, family and community, as well as the political past and present. Like his friend and fellow artist Noah Purifoy, Outterbridge created some of his earliest sculptures from the detritus of the 1965 Watts uprising, and dedicated his life to education and community activism. From 1975 to 1992, he served as director of the Watts Towers Arts Center in Los Angeles.

    As John Yao wrote in The Brooklyn Rail on the occasion of Outterbridge’s first solo show in New York in 2009: “Long before it was fashionable to do so, Outterbridge recognized that identity is a construction, not a given, and certainly not something to be defined by succumbing to external pressures…Formally, Outterbridge’s unearthings echo the subject of his work, which is the excavation of different histories that have been covered over, neglected, and hidden…Outterbridge’s work conjures complex, multilayered narratives that are viscerally and visually enchanting. Having made a real and important place for himself in postwar American art, he continues with unparalleled grace to implicitly challenge many assumptions regarding the proper place and meaning of art in postmodern culture.”


Untitled, Ethnic Heritage Series

mixed media
32 1/4 x 10 x 7 in. (81.9 x 25.4 x 17.8 cm.)
Executed circa 1972.

Estimate on Request



New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019