Past Exhibitions

The Avant-Garde Collection

Exhibition Through January 4, 2015

The Avant-Garde Collection traces the museum’s acquisitions highlights across five decades, with a specific focus on the evolving definition of avant-garde during that period. In the 1960s it was cutting-edge to employ imagery from popular culture, and by the 1970s performance and installation were the bywords of innovation. In the 1980s new media and appropriation appeared on everybody’s radar for the first time, while the 1990s in retrospect were all about identity politics and post-colonialism. Due to the pluralist tendencies of the 21st century that make the notion of avant-garde seem quaint, the challenge for artists to produce work that conceals the influence of generations past is more demanding than ever. Drawn entirely from OCMA’s collection, the selection's underlying premise is to combine the retroactive gaze that enables us to determine which artists transcended the avant-garde of their time and which did not, with an historical effort to reconsider works that may have been visible in their heyday but have since slipped from view, there awaiting future scholarly reassessment.


Watch The Avant-Garde Collection official video
by Eric Minh Swenson



Use your cell phone or home phone to dial  949-203-3053  and enter any prompt number followed by the # key to access commentary from artists featured in The Avant-Garde Collection .

1. Assistant Curator Fatima Manalili
2. Ed Ruscha
3. Billy Al Bengston
4. Joel Morrison
5. Tony DeLap
6. Fred Fehlau
7. Peter Shelton
8. Charles Gaines
9. Catherine Opie
10. Alexandra Grant
11. Jessica Stockholder
12. Suzanne Lacy
13. Martha Rosler
14. Alan Rath
15. Glenn Kaino
16. Karen Carson
17. Tony Oursler



In the spirit of avant-garde, Écoutez  (listen) brings you revolutionary songs and sounds.  Help grow the playlist with your suggestions:  tag your recommendations #OCMA #AVANTGARDE on  Facebook Twitter , or  Instagram . Select songs will be added to the OCMA’s listening station in the galleries weekly and played during select public programs. To be considered, please adhere to the following guidelines:

Artists from any era whose music was considered to be experimental, cutting edge, or ahead of their time. Songs must be available for download from itunes. Songs are suitable for listening by all ages, no explicit content.


See what questions OCMA visitors have asked!
Participate on-site at OCMA or through social media: #OCMA #AVANTGARDE



Artwork images:

Doug Wheeler, Untitled , 1968, Sprayed lacquer on plastic with neon tubing, 80-5/8 x 79-5/8 inches, Gift of Melinda and Edward Wortz

Ed Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, End of the Bucket of Tar with Speaker Trail No. 2 , 1974, Mixed media, 104 x 61 x 34 inches, Collection OCMA; Museum purchase with funds provided through prior gift of Ben C. Deane, © Kienholz

Vija Celmins, Eraser , 1967, Acrylic on balsa wood, 6 5/8 x 20 x 2 1/8 inches, Collection OCMA; Gift of Avco Financial Services, Newport Beach, California

Exhibition Credits

The Avant-Garde Collection is organized by the Orange County Museum of Art and curated by Chief Curator Dan Cameron and Assistant Curator Fatima Manalili.

The exhibition is presented by Crevier BMW, Irvine BMW, Long Beach BMW, Shelly BMW, and Sterling BMW.

Support for the exhibition is provided by Berluti, Paris.

BMW is the 2014 Official Vehicle of the Orange County Museum of Art.