Together Against The World: Self, Community, and Expression Among The Artists of Edendale

Daniel Hurewitz

in Bohemian Los Angeles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520249257
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941694 | DOI:
Together Against The World: Self, Community, and Expression Among The Artists of Edendale

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In the 1920s and 1930s, as the film industry left for other neighborhoods, a group of writers, painters, sculptors, and printers settled in their wake among the hills of Edendale. Contrary to the common belief that Los Angeles was devoid of an art community before the 1950s, Edendale artists constructed a community for themselves around the passion of artistic expression. Within their community structure, the artists grappled with many questions about how much and in what way the artist could strip life down to its fundamentals and convey those through art. In doing so, they framed a discussion similar to the arguments about the continuity of sexual desires and the relationships between those inner desires and external behavior. Although the artists did not focus entirely on desire, they wrestled with the related task of expressing the artist’s “essence”—an “inner self” which they saw as constituted by feelings and psychological constructs. This formulation of essence is more than sexual and gendered behavior, but it shared the notion that an interior truth about people spoke the most about who they were. This chapter discusses the questions of expression and politicization. It discusses what is meant by being an artist, and the meaning of art, representation, meaning, and social responsibility. These questions provide a glimpse into the importance of the inner life, its validity and significance in the broader political and social context. As the 1920s and the 1930s emerged, the answers to the artists’ questions shifted increasingly toward an inner self more publicly revealed and a society more directly engaged. They began to argue that the life of emotion and desire did matter, was worth expressing, and had relevance to the entire world.

Keywords: Edendale; arts; artistic expression; artists of Edendale; expression; politicization; emotion

Chapter.  15479 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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