December 17, 2011
BAY AREA ABSTRACTION: 1945 - 1965
Visual Art Source, 12/17/2011

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BAY AREA ABSTRACTION: 1945 - 1965
Visual Art Source, 12/17/2011

There have been strong reactions to Abstract Expressionism over the course of the more than half century since its mold-breaking beginnings. Abstractionist painting being done today is often quickly labeled as derivative. But there’s something compelling about the energy and engagement in the work of artists who were committed to it at the time of its historic rise. Abstract Expressionism spanned both coasts, as a uniquely American phenomenon, cementing the nation’s place, particularly New York’s, as the major player in the art of that time. Seldom, however, does one get the opportunity to view the work of those abstract painters on the West Coast whose work was every bit as strong, and every bit as compelling as their East Coast contemporaries.

“Bay Area Abstraction: 1945-1965” focuses on three of those artists, Charles Strong, Frank Lobdell, and Jack Jefferson, two of whom studied with Clyfford Still at the California School of Fine Arts. Curator David Eichholtz places those two, Jefferson and Lobdell, in close proximity to one another in the gallery’s front space. While this might be homage to their affiliation with the California School, there are also stylistic similarities in the earthy and raw works produced by both artists in the pre-AbEx 1940s. But it’s their differences that propel the exhibition.

Jefferson’s “Chestnut Street #2” and “Chestnut Street #3” are intimately-sized paintings titled for the location of one of his studios. They show a mixed interest in exploring figuratively suggestive work and pure abstraction, layered in thick applications of paint. Lobdell’s work is more formal, seducing the viewer with structure and pattern. Lobdell’s later paintings evoke a sense of movement and of depth. Jefferson, curiously, went in another direction, exploring flatter planes of color.

Paintings by Strong, whose work comprises a second space within the gallery, are the most visually dynamic: maelstroms of color and form whose large scale can be dizzying. “ Wharf Road,” easily the largest of the paintings here, takes center stage literally and figuratively. The rest of the exhibition swirls around this masterly abstraction.

A related exhibit of other Bay Area painters in a third gallery space, a few of whom were students of Jefferson, show the influence of California School abstraction. Of necessity, fewer examples by each artist are included, but works by Deborah Remington, Hassel Smith, and Lilly Fenichel stand out.

This is how most secondary market shows should be presented: as historically illuminating, with an eye for the spread of influence. There is a startling, elemental power evident in this show that offers evidence why artists are still influenced by the genre some 60 years later.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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