Artists, collectors and art lovers today may think the phenomenon of a young “art star” spotted in an MFA program then cultivated and promoted by gallerists and museum curators started during the burgeoning international art scene and market of the previous decade. The truth is that a select number of young artists with extraordinary talent has always risen meteorically toward the top of the art world. Al Loving (born in Detroit in 1935, died in New York in 2007) was one such art world wunderkind, who, after receiving his MFA from the University of Michigan in the late 1960s received a one-person show shortly thereafter at nothing less than the Whitney Museum of Art.
That said Loving has remained relatively under the radar in Los Angeles, though this exhibition of his large paper collage/relief “paintings” (presented in conjunction with the Baltimore Museum of Art) isn’t his first exposure here. Los Angeles-based Art dealer Alitash Kebede actually gave Loving his first West Coast show in 1994 at her then La Brea Avenue gallery location.
Loving, always an abstractionist, rooted his early work in the pure minimalist/hard-edge geometric vocabulary of hexagons and cubes. Influenced by Han Hoffman (a mentor and teacher), there are also clear echoes of Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd. Yet as an African American, Loving felt strongly about the powerful Civil Rights movements of the 1960s and early ‘70s. Beginning in the 1970’s, he consciously evolved his practice beyond pure minimalism into the multiple methods of production that resulted in a variety of styles work, all of which explored the politically charged zeitgeist of the time.