Paige Berlin

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Access (SIA Only)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Betsy Thomas

Second Advisor

Eric Wolf


Through a study of the production and rise in popularity of the American film noir in Los Angeles, this capstone aims to understand why still today in 2022, the art market in Los Angeles is unique from other cities such as New York or London, despite having a wealth of resources, well-funded museums, and active artistic communities. This paper begins with an analysis of the context in which the American film noir became the prominent style of filmmaking post-WWII,
and how it gained recognition on an international scale. This is followed by a consideration of the role of the fine arts during the time that film noir was gaining said international recognition. There are example of artists working in the 1940s, such as Rico Lebrun and Oskar Fischinger, who were concurrently working in film as their artistic practice developed. Next, the focus of the paper moves towards artists who saw success in the late 1950s and early 1960s, especially those
who were showing at the Ferus Gallery, arguably the most prominent gallery in Los Angeles and the birthplace of the Pop art movement in LA. Throughout, the role of collectors and the development of the city’s museum, which had a less than straightforward path to conception, are discussed as a crucial part to accessibility of the arts for residents and tourists in Los Angeles. This exploration of the impact of the American film noir on the fine arts, raises issues including the irrefutable impact that immigration had on the culture of Los Angeles, the marginalization
seen by many artists moving away from the previously accepted stylistic cannon, and the key role played by the government in the arts.