top of page
  • by Grafton Tanquary

Peter Alexander (1939-2020)

(c) 2016 Eric Minh Swenson

Peter Alexander died Tuesday May 26.

Peter was a friend. I met him in the 1980s at Cirrus Editions in Downtown Los Angeles, when he was printing Chula Vista I and II.

I found him to be one of the most interesting and innovative of the wonderful Southern California artists who burst on the world art scene starting in the 1960s. He was always working on something new, and I tried to visit his studio every two years to see what was fresh.

Peter was born in 1939 in Newport Beach, a fourth-generation Californian, and started surfing at 13.

He was a landscape painter and painted our landscape as he lived in it. He painted our sunsets, clouds, the city at night in black and white, palm trees, the foliage in the desert, the light as reflected from the ocean’s chop when seen at a distance, the colors of water in a swimming pool, the panorama of the city at night from a plane.

Peter trained as an architect and worked for years for the great Louis Kahn. He was frustrated by the restrictions placed on a working architect and entered UCLA where he received a BA in art and MFA in 1968. At UCLA, he began making sculptures of resin, which at that time was poisonous, and he ended up in the hospital. He twice built a house in Topanga and was twice burned out. He was recently living in Santa Monica Canyon.

Peter was a Resident Artist Member of the Jonathan Club for many years. The Club has an early series of prints of architectural drawings at the Jonathan Town Club which were commissioned by the Automobile Club.

At the Jonathan Beach Club there are one of his LAX Series and a small print of Vertigo, capturing the light from the ocean as seen from the Palisades above the Club. This was one of a series of paintings and prints in the same theme called Waterworks, the best known of which is the 48 foot long painting Blue, which was commissioned by Frank Gehry for the Walt Disney Hall. Also at the Beach Club there are a print of Chula Vista I and a photograph entitled Dive, which is of Peter as a youth off Catalina. There are six of his works in storage which used to hang at the beach before the recent renovation.

Peter Alexander was not only exciting artist. He was a warm human being and many will miss him.

Pictured: Peter Alexander and gallerist Craig Krull.

Photo (c) 2016 Eric Minh Swenson

bottom of page