The Subversive John Altoon

Originally posted on Unframed The LACMA Blog:

“OMG, it looks so 1960s!” That has been the response of any number of people when they first see John Altoon’s Untitled (Paris: Dior Evenings), c. 1962–63, currently on view in a retrospective of the artist’s work at LACMA. I think that reaction is based on the bouffant hairdo worn by the sole woman in the image, a coiffure that is so reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy and 60s haute chic. Even the woman’s right eyebrow is arched uncannily like Jackie’s. And of course the square-jawed man whose tie she is straightening is similarly cut out of the John F. Kennedy mold.

John Altoon, Untitled (Paris: Dior Evenings), c. 1962–63, private collection, courtesy Fred Hoffman Fine Art

John Altoon, Untitled (Paris: Dior Evenings) , c. 1962–63, private collection, courtesy Fred Hoffman Fine Art

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John Altoon, Untitled (Paris: Dior Evenings), c. 1962–63, private collection, courtesy Fred Hoffman Fine Art

John Altoon, Untitled (Paris: Dior Evenings) (detail), c. 1962–63, private collection, courtesy Fred Hoffman Fine Art

It is revealing to look at this image in the context of the early 1960s, a moment…

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