The Subversive John Altoon

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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