The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

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September 28, 1969 to December 14, 1969 |

Young Artists from the Collection of Charles Cowles

When the Aldrich Museum opened in October 1964, it was dedicated to the exhibition of the most recent developments in contemporary art. The museum strives to maintain the highest quality in its exhibitions, and is therefore extremely pleased to present – Young Artists from the Collection of Charles Cowles.

Charles Cowles, the publisher of ARTFORUM, has assembled a vibrant and dynamic collection of art. The museum is please that it includes several important young California artists that it has not exhibited previously. The Cowles collection is dramatic, daring, innovative, experimental, sensitive, and unconventional. It is very much of today, and often exquisitely beautiful.

Charles Cowles is dedicated to the advancement of American Art with emphasis on young painters and sculptors. His involvement is complete, his commitment absolute. His contribution in assembling this show was essential. He as not only selected the works to be exhibited, but also designed their installation in the galleries.

Statement by Charles Cowles, September 1969

I started collecting when I was 18, buying works of art out of my allowance and my first earnings. Of necessity the purchases were modest. Among the works were lithographs by such modern masters as Cezanne, Picasso, and Braque. At that point I was primarily influenced by the collection of my parents. I was also affected by the public and private collections which I visited around New York – particularly the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1959 I went to Stanford. The experience of being on the West Coast was critical in my development. Little by little I discovered that the people who were interesting to me were the people connected with the world of art and began to spend a great deal of time with dealers, artists, and critics.

In the early 60s I became a friend of Nicholas Wilder who was championing the most radical and important artists. In 1964, after some hesitation, I bought my first contemporary works – a sculpture by Robert Hudson and a painting by Tom Holland.

About that time I became active in ARTFORUM. Shortly after I became the magazine’s publisher. It moved to Los Angeles where my interest in arts continued to expand. At the end of two years it became apparent that if ARTFORUM were to continue as the critical review of American art it would have to move to New York. This relocation once again broadened the scope of my collection.

During this period certain things about collecting became clearer to me. Art collecting is a personal experience. The eye is trained by constant exposure. Personal standards must prevail, often over professional advice. Yet no serious collection can be formed without the assistance and knowledge of first-rate dealers and museum personal. Their knowledge is invaluable.

The big problem is selectivity. Collections result from a collector’s need to collect. The compulsiveness is in constant battle with the need for selectivity. The balance between these two struggling forces provides the collection with its unique character.

Art takes all forms. All are valid. Everything has to be approached with an open mind. It is not necessary to like a work of art on first seeing it – or ever for that matter. Works of art are about certain experiences which may or may not be “pleasant.” I am primarily interested in contemporary art because it is there that I discovered the most intense expression of such experiences.

Artists: Arlo Acton, Peter Alexander, John Altoon, Edward Avedisian, Walter Darby Bannard, Billy Al Bengston, David Bradshaw, David Budd, John Chamberlain, Dan Christensen, John Clem Clarke, James DeFrance, Jim Dine, Richard Diebenkorn, Ron Davis, Llyn Foulkes, Joe Goode, Robert Graham, Nigel Hall, Phillip Hefferton, Tom Holland, Robert Hudson, Robert Irwin, Gary Kuehn, Stanley Landsman, Ronnie Landfield, Agnes Martin, John McCracken, Ed Moses, Clark Murray, Tanya Neufeld, David Novros, Philip Pearlstein, William Pettet, David Prentice, Ken Price, Mel Ramos, Peter Reginato, Ed Ruscha, Larry Stanton, Lewis Stein, Frank Stella, Wayne Thiebaud, Richard Tuttle, DeWain Valentine, H. C. Westermann, William T. Williams, Peter Young