Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz

BCAM, Level 2
August 6, 2017–December 3, 2017
Playing with Fire: The Art of Carlos Almaraz Exhibition Image


Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz is the first major retrospective of one of the most influential Los Angeles artists of the 1970s and 1980s. Arguably the first of the many Chicano artists whose artistic, cultural, and political motivations catalyzed the Chicano art movement in the 1970s, Almaraz began his career with political works for the farm workers’ causa and co-founded the important artist collective Los Four. Although he saw himself as a cultural activist, Almaraz straddled multiple—and often contradictory—identities that drew from divergent cultures and mores, and his art became less political in focus and more personal, psychological, dreamlike, even mythic and mystical as he evolved artistically.

The first to focus predominantly on Almaraz’s large-scale paintings, the exhibition features more than 60 works and includes pastels, ephemera, and notebooks, mostly from 1967 through 1989, the year of the artist’s untimely death at age 48.

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This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.

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Major support is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation.

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Bank of America is the presenting sponsor of Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz.

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Generous support provided by AltaMed.

Additional funding provided by Ann Murdy.

All exhibitions at LACMA are underwritten by the LACMA Exhibition Fund. Major annual support is provided by Kitzia and Richard Goodman, with generous annual funding from Lauren Beck and Kimberly Steward, the Judy and Bernard Briskin Family Foundation, Louise and Brad Edgerton, Edgerton Foundation, Emily and Teddy Greenspan, Jenna and Jason Grosfeld, The Jerry and Kathleen Grundhofer Foundation, David Schwartz Foundation, Inc., Taslimi Foundation, and Lenore and Richard Wayne.

Image: Carlos Almaraz, Crash in Phthalo Green, 1984, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of the 1992 Collectors Committee (AC1992.136.1). © The Carlos Almaraz Estate. Photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA