Black Sweep (1012 Pico Series), 1967 | Courtesy VW (VeneKlasen/Werner), Berlin
Surveyed here, the five decades of Pat O’Neill’s multifaceted career include several films, sculptures, collages, and drawings.
Long recognized as a pioneer in avant-garde film, O’Neill entered UCLA in 1957, and in 1961 began studying with Robert Heinecken – who like O’Neill, had a background in design. Heinecken was, according to O’Neill, “Bringing photography and Pop Art together and breaking the mold for what was acceptable in photography at that time,” and he “welcomed transgressions of the purity of the medium.” O’Neill’s work reveals a keen interest in the possibilities of expanded photographic practice. His works explore not only the physicality of film stock, but also the objecthood of film. O’Neill’s intense physical manipulation of film stock pre-figured many special effects that later became commonplace in the movie industry.
Sculpture and drawing have also been an important part of his work. He draws from his immediate surroundings and personal archives to create densely layered works, taking on Southern California as an uncertain subject – a displaced location in space and time.