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Billy Al Bengston

Angel and the Badman

1967

Living in Los Angeles during the early 1960s, Billy Al Bengston discovered spray-painting techniques that produced highly finished surfaces as well as a wide range of paint colors, both of which were suddenly available as part of the growing California Custom Car culture. He also began featuring the chevron motif, sergeant stripes stacked in an inverted V shape, in his work. Angel and the Badman is composed on a square aluminum support spray-painted with lacquer. Its title refers to a popular 1947 John Wayne film, and it features a small red square centered on a black background containing an arrangement of chevrons resembling a military insignia.

Billy Al Bengston (b. 1934, Dodge City, Kansas; lives and works in Venice, California)
Angel and the Badman, 1967
Lacquer and polyester on aluminum
60 x 60 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Partial and promised gift from the collection of Laura-Lee and Robert Woods

My earlier work took off from things I saw in the street: cars, signs…man-made things that we see in harsh California light. And Los Angeles, of course, was and is a car culture… So I used car and sign-painting materials and colors the way an artist would any other kind of color. —Billy Al Bengston

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