The Cool School (2008)



Critic Consensus: A breezy and lively modern art documentary, revealing that LA is not a cultural wasteland when it comes to fine art.

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New York City has long been regarded as the heart of the American art movement, but near the end of the 1940s, as the post-war rise of Abstract Expressionism became the new wave of painting in the United States, a small but determined band of painters, curators, and collectors on the West Coast were determined to make themselves known. Filmmaker Morgan Neville examines the rise of the Los Angeles art scene and how it brought a new and vigorously American slant to contemporary painting in the documentary The Cool School. Neville profiles Walter Hopps and Irving Blum, owners of the Ferus Gallery, which championed the new school of Los Angeles art; sculptors Ed Kienholz and Larry Bell; and painters Ed Ruscha, John Altoon, and Billy Al Bengston, all of whom were championed by the Ferus Gallery; architect Frank Gehry, whose ideas dovetailed with those of the new L.A. artists; and Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell, actors and Hollywood bohemians whose love of the new L.A. art (and willingness to buy pieces) provided crucial support for a struggling movement. Jeff Bridges serves as narrator.
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts
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Critic Reviews for The Cool School

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (12)

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November 16, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

Morgan Neville's 'The Cool School' is a slickly packaged document of the burgeoning modern art scene in LA during the late '50s and early '60s which sadly submerges its fascinating subject matter in technical clutter and contrived set-ups.

Full Review… | August 14, 2008
Time Out
Top Critic

Veteran documentarist Morgan Neville's illustrated history of the painters and sculptors associated with Venice's Ferus Gallery (1957-1967) is at once lively and analytical.

Full Review… | May 22, 2008
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic


Full Review… | March 28, 2008
New York Post
Top Critic

The Cool School, a breezy, lively documentary about a thin slice of the Los Angeles fine art scene in the 1950s, is easy on the eyes, and the ears too.

March 28, 2008
New York Times
Top Critic

Cool School is a must for anyone interested in 20th century American art.

March 27, 2008
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Cool School

A lot of information, very well done, and made me wish I was not a sparkle in my mother's eye at that time. I think I would have gotten into it more if I was a part of that generation.

Lenore S
Lenore S

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