The Rat Bastard Protective Association was an inflammatory, close-knit community of artists who lived and worked in a building they dubbed Painterland in the Fillmore neighborhood of midcentury San Francisco. The artists who counted themselves among the Rat Bastards—which included Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, Michael McClure, and Manuel Neri—exhibited a unique fusion of radicalism, provocation, and community. Geographically isolated from a viable art market and refusing to conform to institutional expectations, they animated broader social and artistic discussions through their work and became a transformative part of American culture over time. Anastasia Aukeman presents new and little-known archival material in this authorized account of these artists and their circle, a colorful cultural milieu that intersected with the broader Beat scene.
1. California Modernism after World War II
2. The Art of Assemblage, New York– San Francisco
3. Rat Bastards in Painterland •
4. Artist-Run Galleries of the Fillmore
5. The Rat Bastard Protective Association and the Making of Assemblage
6. “Woodshedding” Years: The RBPA into the 1960s
Appendix: A Chronology of the Rat Bastard Protective Association and the California Arts Scene, 1944– 1968
List of Illustrations
Anastasia Aukeman is an art historian and curator who teaches at Parsons School of Design in New York City. She has contributed essays to numerous exhibition catalogues and written articles and reviews for Art in America, Art on Paper, and ARTnews, among other publications.
“Richly detailed…. Aukeman has written eloquently and thoroughly about the milieu in which this iconoclastic group of artists, poets, musicians, and publishers thrived from 1957 — when Conner and wife, Jean Sandstedt, arrived in San Francisco from Lincoln, Nebraska — to the day “The Rose” was removed from DeFeo’s apartment.” —Hyperallergic
"Fills a real void in the literature, not only on Bruce Conner and the cultural and intellectual context within which he worked for half a century, but on other remarkable artists in his milieu."—Kristine Stiles, Professor of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University
“Anastasia Aukeman’s book is the first in-depth study of a group of artists, centered on Bruce Conner, who all lived in the same building in San Francisco in the 1950s and 1960s (Painterland) and who spearheaded avant-garde art in the Bay Area. The author has done astonishingly thorough research in very scattered materials to put together the most comprehensive account of the artists, the group activities, the gallery scene, and the whole avant-garde art world of San Francisco in this period. Other scholars are going to be citing this work and using it for a generation or more."—Bruce Robertson, Professor of History of Art and Architecture and Director of the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara