Clair Wolfe

  • Notes on Craig Kauffman

    IT IS NOT SURPRISING THAT A TRADITION OF EXPERIMENTATION with new materials, which has been a concern of modern artists since the early decades of the century, should be revitalized in southern California. Of all the traditions of modern art, this one, certainly, has a natural locus in an area in which aircraft, plastics, chemical and film industries feed an almost inexhaustible variety of new materials into the studios of artists. The materials which simply suggested a set of exotic possibilities to Moholy-Nagy, Duchamp, Picasso and the Bauhaus innovators become, in the southern California

  • A Note on the Contemporary Art Council

    THE FOCAL POINT in the visual arts in southern California is, of course, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—that over-worked, much-criticized, understaffed entity that had been assuming myriad responsibilities long before these responsibilities were the popular issues they have recently become.

    The situation of the museum is a unique one. The Museum of Art is not one museum, but many. Under one roof, one administration and one budget it assumes responsibility for presenting an astounding range from ancient artifacts to the most recent art. The establishment of the Contemporary Art Council in

  • Joe Goode

    This assembly of recent paintings states exactly what former displays of this artist’s work have stated. That isolation is a fact in our lives, and that it may contain an element of despair. Whereas the artist’s previous work expressed the same conception through use of large, textured, single-colored oils set as backdrop for a painted milk bottle, these works use a sketchy pencil drawing of a house implanted against a medium-sized, single colored, sometimes varied textured background encased in an aluminum frame.

    The houses, which are sometimes trimmed in an outline corresponding to the house-shape,

  • “Painted Sculpture”

    This exhibit is another interesting compendium of works related not by style, school, movement, time or place, but by a technical device. It has provided the interested Los Angeles audience with a rapid summarization of relatively recent developments by, for the most part, relatively recent talents. Unfortunately the best of those who paint sculpture were absent. This specifically includes John Chamberlain, Kenneth Price, and Larry Bell.

    The upsurgence of painted sculpture originates in two sources. The first is an almost automatic and inherent color sensibility stemming from the assemblage of

  • Kenneth Price

    One of the most striking reaffirmations which this exhibit of recent sculptures brings to focus is that the most confident, self-assured, definite, talented and aggressive artists of any time have no qualms whatsoever about arriving at visual conclusions similar to the great artists of previous generations. The historical range of Price’s biomorphic abstractions is impressive. They range from thoroughly misplaced traditions of oriental ceramics to more obvious associations with Brancusi, Arp and Miró.

    Whatever connections the critics can, and will, conjure, there are always two essential factors

  • Edward Biberman

    Someone with the unlikely name of Barrows Dunham Cynwyd once wrote of Biberman: “And so I am glad that Biberman chose to do in paint what Descartes did in philosophy. He won’t get fame by puzzling spectators, but I dare say he feels much more joy in lifting veils, evaporating mists, and letting the eye do what it was meant to do: see.”

    It is not a statement that does justice to the artist’s retrospective (1927–1963), for the exhibition, if it does anything at all, points up in often sad fashion Biberman’s continuing struggle with the question of what the eye was meant to do.

    It was 1929 when

  • William Waldren

    The highly responsive criticism given Waldren’s past work seems ludicrous in the context of the present exhibition. In the light of previous superlatives one cannot help but be surprised, amazed, confused and thoroughly disappointed by these overbearing and pretentious wall sculptures.

    The failures of these particular reliefs are specific. Their imagery seems to be little more than a kind of extra-terrestrial appearance as noncommittal and as chancy as the photographed surface of the moon, which they at times resemble. They also resemble gigantic, yet harmless heads of flies, tentacles and little

  • Niki de Saint-Phalle

    About the most encouraging conclusion concerning the works of Niki de Saint-Phalle is that she is not really such a bad shot—for a woman. In fact, she is a very attractive shot. She is also an excellent dramatist, a superb scavenger, a diligent worker, and a woefully misunderstood artist. The use of the word “artist,” however, is intended only in the broadest sense, for the only time there is any evidence of her visual apparatus is at that brief moment when she lines up the sights of her rifle to blast the already decomposing corpses she has created.

    Herein lies her genius and the crux of

  • Phil Hefferton

    Phil Hefferton’s oil renderings based on U.S. paper currency are, of course, absurd. They are inaccurate, badly painted, misspelled, egotistical, flagrantly disrespectful, and usually ludicrous. And one cannot help but admire them for just those reasons, which is exactly the accomplished intention of the artist. To fully understand the point of Hefferton’s statement, one should justifiably demand a comprehensive exhibit such as this first local one of Hefferton’s now famous “mad money.”

    What the artist points out is that there is another world within the world of paper money. There is American

  • George Csengeri

    There is a considerable sense of paradox in these recent oils by Hungarian George Csengeri. Yet their paradox does not seem to lie in any emotional tensions generated by artistic intent. In spite of nicely woven interplays between textures and extremely subtle color variations, the artist manages to imbue his paintings with a grave stillness. Stillness itself can take many forms. There is the quiet before the storm and the silence after. There is that of a man sleeping and that of a man dying. And therein lies the paradox, for these paintings dote upon a silence wholly enigmatic; and, as one

  • G. Ray Kerciu

    Kerciu, a misplaced Michiganian, is the artist who “defiled” the flag of the Confederacy during a temporary tour of teaching at “Ole Miss.” In five pseudopop works he managed to enrage all that is dear to the Southern heart—prejudice, intolerance, bigotry and segregation. The consequences were threats of a substantial fine and up to seven months in jail. Kerciu now teaches at a Southern California university, fortunately, and his diminished subject matter shows it.

    Politics aside, these most recent works would seem to indicate an over refinement of his New Realist mode. Some of them, especially

  • Cedars-Sinai Fellowship Council Invitational

    This exhibition of 1,000 works is imbued with charity. Organized by the Cedars-Sinai Fellowship Council with the unquestionably good intentions of raising funds, one is reminded that the attitude toward charity should be charitable. Therefore, it is not the misleading title, the hectic installation, or the seemingly endless rows of mediocre daubs that are most objectionable. What is intolerable is the considerable misrepresentation given to an exhibit that obviously encompassed little more than rounding up all available painting from Rancho La Cienega along with myriad flea-bitten strays, and

  • Mentor Huebner, Donn H. Sando, Renée Groch

    This is one of the best installed poor exhibits one is likely to ever run across. Mentor Huebner’s mundane oils have all the wit and verve of a Woolworth’s postcard, but unfortunately reduce their locale (California, Paris, Spain) to some place without interest or life. Sando’s very usual, decorative, welded metals of iron flowers and paralyzed bird’s wings offer nothing, and Renée Groch’s “good draftsmanship” results in subject matter only a notch above wide-eyed moppets, clowns and all that.

    Clair Wolfe

  • Masterworks of Mexican Art: Modern

    THE ESSENCE OF MODERN Mexican art, as well as its handicap, is a preoccupation with history—art history, ancient history, Mexican history, and world history. The result is a blinding national pride that is as limiting to the contemporary Mexican artist as any didactic academy or political formalism. For ever since José Guadalupe Posada destroyed the neo­classicism of the 19th century, ever since Rivera, Si­queiros and Orozco scratched the cry of revolution on the walls of the “patria,” succeeding artists have found themselves in the awkward position of being obligated to continue a creative