Billy Al Bengston

decade

1930s

1934

Billy Al Bengston is born in Dodge City, Kansas.

decade

1940s

1948

Billy Al Bengston’s family moves to Los Angeles.

decade

1950s

1953–55 1953

Billy Al Bengston studies at Los Angeles Junior College (now Los Angeles City College).

1955

Billy Al Bengston moves to Oakland and enrolls at the California College of Arts and Crafts but moves back to Los Angeles within the year.

1956

Billy Al Bengston enrolls at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design) and studies with Peter Voulkos but leaves after a year.

1957

Billy Al Bengston is part of a group exhibition at the Ferus Gallery.

late 1950s 1957

Barney’s Beanery, a popular West Hollywood bar, is an important source of community for Billy Al Bengston, Joe Goode, Jerry McMillan, and Ed Ruscha, as well as others who show at the Ferus Gallery.

1957–58 1957

Roy De Forest exhibits in two group shows at the Ferus Gallery with Billy Al Bengston.

1958–63 1958

Billy Al Bengston has solo exhibitions at the Ferus Gallery.

1959

Artists outside the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, 1959. Pictured clockwise from top: Billy Al Bengston, Irving Blum, Ed Moses, and John Altoon. Gift of Irving Blum. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2009.M.37). © Estate of William Claxton/Demont Photo Management LLC.

1959

Larry Bell moves to the Ocean Park area of Santa Monica, California, where several artists including Billy Al Bengston also have studios. Bell befriends Bengston through his teacher Robert Irwin.

decade

1960s

1960

Billy Al Bengston begins his Chevron series.

1960s 1962

Judy Chicago knows Billy Al Bengston from her days as a student at UCLA.

1962–64 1962

Billy Al Bengston teaches for a year at UCLA when Judy Chicago is in graduate school. Bengston’s studio is the first Chicago ever visits, and she considers him the first real artist she’s met.

1963

Billy Al Bengston, Joe Goode, and Ed Ruscha are included in the group exhibition Six More at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.

1963

Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, and Ed Ruscha are included in a group show at the Ferus Gallery.

1964

Dennis Hopper, Billy Al Bengston, 1964. Gelatin silver print; image: 16 × 24 in., framed: 23 × 30 ½ in. © Dennis Hopper. Courtesy of The Hopper Art Trust.

1964

Billy Al Bengston, Robert Irwin, Ed Moses, and Ken Price are included in the Ferus Gallery’s Studs exhibition.

mid-1960s 1964

Judy Chicago enrolls in auto body school to learn airbrushing techniques. She begins to make works inspired by the car culture of California, much like the finish fetish school that includes Billy Al Bengston.

1965

Billy Al Bengston starts the Dentos series.

mid-1960s 1965

Judy Chicago watches Billy Al Bengston race motorcycles and hangs out with the “Ferus gang” at Barney’s Beanery, although she acknowledges the machismo of the crew.

1968

A black-and-white photograph of two men shaking hands is mounted to a light-colored piece of wood.
Ed Ruscha and Billy Al Bengston, Business Cards, 1968. Offset on paper with business card and gold-backed paper stapled on final page; punched and tied with leather cord with silver gelatin print and photo corners adhered to wood-grained Bristol board; 7 1/16 × 5 9/16 in. (18 × 14 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Robert L. Mollers, 2012.95. © Ed Ruscha and Billy Al Bengston. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

1968

Billy Al Bengston has a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art titled Motel Dracula.

1968

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) organizes a Billy Al Bengston retrospective that includes furniture from Larry Bell and Ed Ruscha, with installation design by a young Frank Gehry. Ruscha designs the cover for the catalogue, which is made of sandpaper.

1968

Billy Al Bengston and Ed Ruscha collaborate on Business Cards (1968), an artist book in the MCA’s collection.

1968

Billy Al Bengston is named a Tamarind Fellow.

1969

Billy Al Bengston has a solo exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum titled Motel Dracula.

1969

Billy Al Bengston establishes the Artist Studio in his quarters on Mildred Avenue in Venice, California, as a way to get around the commercial gallery system. The space shows brief exhibitions of works by friends, including Larry Bell, Joe Goode, and Ed Ruscha, and the artists are able to keep all profits.

decade

1970s

1970

Billy Al Benston has an exhibition at the Mizuno Gallery, lit only by candlelight, which features some of his Dentos series.

1970

Art in America publishes Billy Al Bengston‘s “Los Angeles Artists’ Studios,” a photo essay featuring his own studio along with Larry Bell’s, Joe Goode’s, and Ed Ruscha’s, among others.

1971

Billy Al Bengston rents out Allen Ruppersberg’s Al’s Grand Hotel to throw a party.

1972

Announcement for the exhibition Grup Shrow at the Mizuno Gallery in Los Angeles, 1972. Featuring Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, and Vija Celmins. Gift of Riko Mizuno. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2010.M.84).
Jerry McMillan, Billy Al Bengston, Ed Ruscha, Ken Price, and Joe Goode at Boxing Match, 1972. Gelatin silver print; 8 × 10 in. (20.3 × 25.4 cm). Courtesy of Jerry McMillan and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica.

1973

Billy Al Bengston has a solo exhibition at Nicholas Wilder Gallery titled Recent Watercolors of Billy Al Bengston.

early 1970s 1973

Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, and Vija Celmins are included in a group show at the Mizuno Gallery.

1974

Billy Al Bengston has a solo exhibition at Nicholas Wilder Gallery titled Billy Al Bengston: New Paintings.

1978

Billy Al Bengston has a solo exhibition at the Mizuno Gallery.

1978–79 1978

The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, organizes the exhibition Billy Al Bengston: Paintings of Three Decades, which travels to the Oakland Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

decade

1980s

1981

Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Joe Goode, Bruce Nauman, and Ed Ruscha are included in the group exhibition Art in Los Angeles: Seventeen Artists in the Sixties at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

decade

2000s

2000

Billy Al Bengston has a solo exhibition at Rosamund Felsen Gallery titled The Good, The Bad and Nothing Heartless.

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