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Museum picketed

June 7, 2007 |  5:49 am



June 7, 1957
Los Angeles

Max Cossak, an abstract artist, hates the modern art on display at the Los Angeles County Museum. He hates the artworks so much that he is picketing a juried show because he believes "the abstract paintings chosen to be shown are trash and giving abstract art a black eye," the Mirror says.

Assistant Chief Museum Curator James Elliott defended the panel that chose the paintings by saying: "The jury was asked to select solely on the basis of quality without regard to stylistic tendencies and as representative as possible of the best work recently produced. In this regard, I believe they have done a very good job."

Cossak, of 1321 N. Harvard Blvd., disagreed vehemently, calling the jury "partisan, blind and stupid." He noted that he submitted six paintings for exhibition using his own name and three pseudonyms and none of them were picked.



He also wrote a letter to The Times stating his complaints about the show:

"There are 166 pictures in all, 98 of them abstract. Out of the 98, 52 were so bad that I wonder if the jury was blind.
"Six paintings actually had the paint run on the canvas. Some were painted with a house brush. Others were infantile, sloppy and tasteless. It is a disgrace to hang such work in our top museum which is supposed to show the best work of L.A. artists.
"It seems to me that the pictures were picked more for the name of the painter than purely on their own merits. Proof of that is the test I made. I submitted six paintings under three false names and not even one was accepted. Among them was one that won a prize at a former exhibit. So I have lost faith in the methods and fairness of the jury.  
"Next year I suggest that the names of the artists be taped over so that the jury will be forced to choose each work on its own merits. The silence of our art critics in Los Angeles amazes me; don't they have enough courage to criticize bad art?"

The Samuel Goldwin Award was given to Edgar Ewing for "Rose Parade Saddle" while the Junior Art Council Award was given to Oliver Andrews for an 80-inch steel piece titled "Figure."

Cossak died Feb. 21, 1974. He was 64.

Note the Michio Takayama artwork in the background of the top picture.

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