Llyn Foulkes

2009 Artist Award

The Last Outpost, 1983, mixed media, 81 x 108 x 5 inches. Collection of the Palm Springs Desert Museum.
Pop, 1985-1990, mixed media including clothing and upholstery on wood, 84 x 123 x 3 inches. Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
The Lost Frontier, 1997-2005, mixed media with soundtrack, 87 x 96 x 8 inches.


Llyn Foulkes is a visual artist and musician based in Los Angeles. He studied at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles (1957-59) and exhibited at the Ferus Gallery beginning in the late 1950s. In 1967, his work was included in the Paris Biennale and the Sao Paulo Bienale. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts (1986), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1977), and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Art (2008), among other honors. His work has been exhibited at the Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA; Centre Pompidou, Paris; San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA; National Academy, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark, among others. Foulkes’ art is represented in several permanent collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Frye Museum of Art, Seattle, WA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.




OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA—September 25, 2009—The Artists’ Legacy Foundation announced today that its third annual Artist Award of $25,000 will be given to painter Llyn Foulkes. The Foundation created the Artist Award to recognize and honor accomplishments of an outstanding visual artist whose primary medium is painting or sculpture.

Mr. Foulkes’ nominator wrote “Foulkes has been a major figure in the Los Angeles art scene since 1961 when he had a solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery. Foulkes began as an abstract expressionist painter but by 1962 in his solo show at the Pasadena Art Museum, he showed emotionally charged, expressionist works that incorporated assemblage and found objects. His influence can be seen in several later generations of artists. Over his lengthy career, Llyn Foulkes has demonstrated exceptional talent, influence, perseverance and absolute dedication… [His life as an artist has been marked by] his inability to compromise, his slightly acerbic and irreverent wit, and the challenging aspect of his work to a general audience.”

Mr. Foulkes has been a practicing artist for over 40 years. Currently his work can be seen in New York at Kent Gallery and in Santa Monica at Craig Krull Gallery. Born in Yakima, Washington in 1934, he now resides in Los Angeles. He attended the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) and upon graduating won the First Award for Painting and the First Award for Drawing. Throughout the late sixties and early seventies, Foulkes became well known for his paintings of rocks and the desert landscape of Southern California. In the seventies Foulkes stopped making the rock paintings fearing that he had “lost his soul and was selling out.” In 1973 he began a new series of paintings, which he referred to as “the bloody head paintings.”

Since the early eighties, Foulkes has been working on a series of tableaux including several recent large scale projects, The Lost Frontier (1997-2005), a tour de force image of the Los Angeles landscape as a heavenly wasteland; Deliverance (2004-2007), depicting the artist right after he has murdered Mickey Mouse (for Foulkes, long a symbol of corporate brainwashing); and The Awakening (1994-2009), a highly emotional and personal painting of the artist and his ex-wife that he began in the early nineties during the breakup of his marriage. He works on the tableau paintings for years, adding and subtracting elements, and painting with textured paste and paint in his pursuit of the ultimate illusion of depth.

Music has been a very important part of Llyn Foulke’s life. “Painting is my torment and music is my joy,” he says in a video. He performed in high school and later played drums with CityLights (1965-1971), followed by his own band named The Rubber Band (1973-1977). By 1979, Foulkes returned to a childhood interest in one-man bands, and constructed a machine from which he plays strings, keyboard, drums, horns, bells and sings. He performs regularly on the West Coast and in 2004 released a CD of original compositions entitled Llyn Foulkes and His Machine: Live at the Church of Art.

Mr. Foulkes was surprised by the award and when reached by phone said, “Receiving the Artists’ Legacy Foundation’s Artist Award is a total surprise. I am thrilled and delighted to accept it and it will help me a great deal.” A ceremony honoring the artist will take place in Oakland, CA this October.

Artist’s Website: www.llynfoulkes.com

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