The Cool School at Ferus Gallery

As the legend goes, Los Angeles’s “Cool School” can be traced back to a conversation over a hot-dog stand on La Cienega Boulevard. There, Walter Hopps and Ed Kienholz scribbled a contract on a hot-dog wrapper to become partners in what would later become the iconic Ferus Gallery—the avant-garde cultural hub largely involved in building L.A.’s first fine art scene, from scratch.

Although hard to imagine in retrospect, Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, Wallace Berman, Jay DeFeo, and Bruce Conner were once young, up-and-coming artists looking for a break; fortunately, they found it at Ferus. While small and unassuming—operated out of a storefront—the gallery was largely responsible for launching the artists’ careers and, it should be noted, for hosting both Andy Warhol’s first gallery show and Marcel Duchamp’s first retrospective.

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