The estate of John Altoon, a core member of the Los Angeles art scene of the late 1950s and ’60s, is now represented by Los Angeles’s Kohn Gallery. Altoon showed at the influential Ferus Gallery, which ran from 1957 to 1966 and helped kick off the careers of artists like Robert Irwin and Edward Kienholz. He was also a member of artist Wallace Berman’s so-called Semina circle, named for Berman’s publication of collages and experimental poetry.
Altoon was something of a legend of his time in L.A., but he alternated between periods of productivity and mental illness, until his premature death at the age of 43, in 1969. He suffered a heart attack at a party before being taken to the home of collector Betty Asher (her husband was a doctor), and dying there, according to a recounting of the story by KCRW. Altoon was the subject of a 2014 retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum.