West Coast modern art pioneer Joan Agajanian Quinn makes her East Coast debut at the Armenian Museum

WATERTOWN — The Armenian Museum of America will present their largest contemporary exhibition, “On the Edge: Los Angeles Art 1970s-1990s”, from the Joan and Jack Quinn Family Collection. This selection of works explores a crucial period for understanding current practices and West Coast mentality. Included are Lita Albuquerque, John Altoon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lynda Benglis, Vija Celmins, Gregory Wiley Edwards, Claire Falkenstein, Frank Gehry, David Hockney, John M. Miller, Helmut Newton, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol and more.

EF Kitchen
LA portrait series, 1985
Joan and Jack Quinn
Archival pigment print 16″ x 20″
Courtesy of Joan and Jack Quinn Family Collection

“On the Edge” premiered at the Bakersfield Museum of Art in 2021 and was curated by Rachel McCullah Wainwright. “The works and artists on display now represent a period in history that transformed artistic creation,” Wainwright said. “The art created in Los Angeles in the late 1960s and from 1970 onward is defined by a unique nonconformist spirit, play on new materials, celebration of light, and the California cool ethos.”

Part of what makes the collection so unique is its foundation in the friendship between artist and collector. “Few individuals have left such an indelible mark on the Southern California artistic landscape more than the Quinns,” says Wainwright.

Newly married in the 1960s, Joan and Jack took up collecting early on. “We reveled in our friendship with artists by bringing our communities together,” Quinn notes. Jack used his skills as a prominent and influential lawyer to help an array of emerging artists and their dealers navigate the worlds of law and business, while Joan found herself both muse and promoter.

Zareh, Untitled, 2005, Pencil on paper, 21.5 x 19.25 inches, Courtesy of the Joan and Jack Quinn Family Collection

The complementary exhibition, “Discovering Takouhi: Portraits of Joan Agajanian Quinn”, curated by Natalie Varbedian and Gina Grigorian, includes Armenian artists such as Dahlia Elsayed, Jean Kazanjian, Silvina Der Meguerditchian, Ara Oshagan, Zaven Sarkissian and Aram Saroyan. The distinctive works are a selection from Quinn’s unprecedented collection of portraits consisting of over 300 gifts from friends who painted, sculpted and photographed her likeness in their style.

“We are incredibly thrilled to exhibit these premier works from Armenian-American collector Joan Agajanian Quinn,” said AMA Executive Director Jason Sohigian. “We are a living museum that preserves and shares ancient and medieval artifacts and has a long tradition of showcasing modern art in our galleries. These are definitely exhibits you won’t want to miss.

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