The Human Beast: Art of Maxine Kim Stussy & Jan Stussy

Closing Reception:  Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 6 pm

Opening Reception: December 10, 2016 at 6 pm
WUHO, 6518 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

Curated by Michael Duncan

Known for their gutsy, fantastical approaches to figurative art, Jan Stussy (1921-1990) and sculptor Maxine Kim Stussy Frankel (b. 1923) were a powerhouse art couple of mid-century Los Angeles who often exhibited together. WUHO Gallery, a non-profit gallery at Woodbury School of Architecture, presents The Human Beast: Art of Maxine Kim Stussy & Jan Stussy, an exhibition that demonstrates the artists’ exploration of the melding of animalistic and human impulses in mankind. Both exquisite craftspersons, the couple revealed in their early works a mutual interest in this singular approach to the figure. Comprised of twenty sculptures, paintings, and works on paper, ranging over four decades, this exhibition focuses on Jan’s large-scale works, and sheds new light on Maxine’s under-recognized oeuvre.

This exhibition is curated by Michael Duncan, a Los Angeles-based independent curator and critic.

In 1948, Jan and Maxine met as teaching assistants at UCLA where Jan went on to become a full professor in 1963, teaching there until the last year of his life. Often exhibiting together in the late 1950s, they enjoyed shows at the prestigious Esther Robles Gallery and in the 1960s at Ceeje Gallery. Associated with artists such as Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Rico Lebrun, and Lorser Feitelson, Jan and Maxine continued to experiment with fresh and challenging ways of depicting the human figure. Maxine’s early plaster and ceramic sculptures led in the 1970s and 1980s to remarkable amalgam sculptures of wood, cast wood, and metals. A wildly prolific artist, Jan produced large bodies of prints, drawings, and paintings that developed a variety of metaphorical and lyrical ideas about the human form. Begun in 1963, his best-known series of paintings, Man in a Box, was widely exhibited and featured in a review in Time magazine. In 1975 he received an Academy Award for his short film, Gravity Is My Enemy, which documented the life and work of Mark Hicks, a quadriplegic student. His works were included in the critically acclaimed 2012 exhibition, LA RAW: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles 1945-1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthyat the Pasadena Museum of California Art, as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 initiative.

In 2007, Maxine (formerly Stussy) and Ray Frankel gifted a collection of artist Jan Stussy’s work to the Woodbury School of Architecture. Since then, the University has taken significant steps to preserve and protect the collection of this important mid-century California painter including appraising, cataloguing, photographing and storing a portion of the more than 9,000 works of Jan Stussy. The two exhibitions, including The Human Beast:  Art of Maxine Kim Stussy & Jan Stussy as well as an October 2017 exhibition at the Nan Rae Gallery also curated by Duncan, and a 100-page catalogue currently in development, aim to celebrate this unique partnership and reveal the broad range of their innovative work.  This project is a collaboration between the School of Architecture and the School of Media, Culture & Design at Woodbury University.  You can find more information about the Stussy / Frankel Fund here.

Exhibition:  December 10, 2016 – February 19, 2017

Selected Press



LA Times Datebook


Posted in 2016, Past

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