“Birth of the Cool” Exhibit and Book

Birth of the Cool

I completely forgot to plug the “Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury” exhibit which just closed at the Orange County Museum of Art last weekend. What reminds me to mention it now is that I recently saw the accompanying exhibition catalog, and even though I only managed to flip through it briefly, it looks to be a fetching and attractive coffeetable book.

Not having seen the exhibit, I’m curious to find out how they treated the “Cartoon Modern” look in the context of the larger West Coast contemporary art movement. I do know that the exhibit made some acknowledgment of midcentury animation by displaying shorts like Gerald McBoing Boing, Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom, and a Road Runner cartoon by Chuck Jones.

If you didn’t see the show while it was in SoCal, the exhibition continues at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA (February 15-April 13, 2008). Then it’s on to the Oakland Museum of California (May 18-August 17, 2008) and the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX (February 27-May 31, 2009).


  • Josh

    This looks great… I’d love to look through a copy too. A great companion catalog is “Turning the Tide: Early Los Angeles Modernists 1920-1956″ by Karlstrom and Ehrlich (I found a copy at my University art library), which does a great job detailing the role of fine arts painters in the animation industry. It would be interesting to look at these books in sequence and perhaps see how, conversely, animation began influencing “fine arts” (if that’s even a relevant term).