In 1957, Walter Hopps (1932-2005) and Edward Kienholz (1927-1994) opened the contemporary art Ferus Gallery on North La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. Kienholz sold his share to Irving Blum (b. 1930) one year later. Hopps left in 1962 to become curator and, later, director of the Pasadena Art Museum. Ferus Gallery closed in 1966 and Irving Blum maintained sole ownership and changed the gallery's name to Irving Blum Gallery.
Ferus Gallery was the first gallery in the Los Angeles area to show contemporary American art, and focused heavily on contemporary Southern California artists, such as John Altoon, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Wallace Berman, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, Ed Kienholz, Ed Moses, Richard Ruben, among many others. Likewise, Ferus Gallery helped to solidify the reputations of many established New York artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Richard Diebenkorn, Andy Warhol, and others.
The inaugural exhibition at the Ferus Gallery was "Objects on the New Landscape Demanding of the Eye" (March 15 - April 11, 1957), a group show including the work of Frank Lobdell, Jay DeFeo, Craig Kauffman, Richard Diebenkorn, John Altoon and Clyfford Still. Los Angeles artists who had their first solo shows at the gallery included: Wallace Berman (1957), Billy Al Bengston (1958), Ed Moses (1958), Robert Irwin (1959), John Mason (1959), Kenneth Price (1960), Llyn Foulkes (1962), Larry Bell (1962) and Ed Ruscha (1963).
In 1957 the gallery was temporarily closed after LAPD officers arrested and charged Wallace Berman with obscenity over work in his exhibition. It was his first and last solo show.
In 1962 "Andy Warhol: Campbell's Soup Cans" was Andy Warhol's first solo pop art exhibition and the first exhibition of the Soup Cans. Five of the canvases sold for $100 each, but Blum bought them back to keep the set intact.
Irving Blum designed many of the exhibition announcements for the gallery with a graphic aesthetic.
In 2007, "The Cool School" was released, a documentary film about the Ferus Gallery and its eccentric artists.