James Monte

  • Looking at the Guggenheim International

    WHAT DOES THIS YEAR’S Guggenheim International do, aside from merely exhibiting works by twenty-one artists? If the intent of the exhibition can be reduced to a common denominator, one can sum it up in the following manner: so-called “Minimalism” for want of a better word is surveyed by the inclusion of pieces by Andre, Flavin, Judd, LeWitt, Morris and de Maria. Pieces depending on one aspect of Minimalism, exact site location, and derived from Andre’s piece entitled Lever, include works by Burgin, Dias, Dibbets, Long, Merz, Nauman, and Takamatsu. The sequential aspect of Minimalism, the aspect

  • Billy Al Bengston Retrospective in Los Angeles

    BILLY AL BENGSTON’S CAREER BEGAN at Manual Arts High School, a vocational training school in Los Angeles, which included within its largely industrial arts curriculum an excellently conceived Fine Arts program. This unique program afforded students such as Jackson Pollock and Philip Guston, as well as Bengston, the opportunity to develop sophisticated skills within the secondary school system.

    For Bengston, graduation from high school and enrollment in college in the fall of 1952 was the beginning of a series of misadventures with higher education. Dissatisfied with college, Bengston dropped out

  • Los Angeles

    Joseph Kosuth, at Gallery 669, in his quest to strip away from his art everything but the idea, has arrived at a series of dictionary definitions of the word NOTHING, executed (not by the artist) photographically, in black 4 by 4 foot panels with white lettering. A few doors away, at the Molly Barnes Gallery, is an exhibition of paintings by John Baldessari, who, in his way, is also interested in a strict elimination of “formal” esthetic encumbrances—as well as (in answer to Kosuth?) the idea: on one of his black-lettered-on-grey canvases is written, Everything is purged from this painting but

  • San Francisco

    A frolicsome, sprawling twenty-three year survey of the arts in San Francisco was unveiled in twenty-three locations in the Bay City last June. Evidences of the event were in virtually every neighborhood in San Francisco and included a gang-bang poetry reading at the Nourse Auditorium which recreated in kind if not content the non-stop rapping heard in similar locations ten, twelve, fifteen years ago. The names were the same: Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, David Meltzer, Lew Welch, Philip Whalen and many others. Seeing the poets, listening to their litany,

  • San Francisco Artists

    Manuel Neri’s new work exhibited at the Quay Gallery picks up at a point left roughly seven years ago. The period in between has been devoted to sculpting plaster effigies of men and women in assorted states of fragmentation. The new work in aluminum echoes Neri’s sensual use of aluminum paint over craggy plaster, interspersed with thin accents of bright color. The artist’s earliest abstract wall sculptures gradually gave way to the overt figuration familiar to California art audiences. The break seen in this show is drastic, unequivocal and startling. To try and sort reasons or clues in the

  • “Making It” With Funk

    ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO the artists in the Bay Area began to use the word “funky” to indicate a kind of wry approval of some particularly unlikely work by another artist. Nobody thought very much about it. At least not until Peter Selz, with his unquenchable thirst for finding Monster Schools, arrived in the Bay Area and started looking around for what he could claim as his very own. He found the word and then tried to find the art that went with it (see questionnaire). As the recent show in Berkeley’s University Art Museum demonstrates, he missed by a mile.

    It’s possible—but just barely—that a show

  • Robert Motherwell

    A selection of forty-nine paintings. drawings, and collages, representing the fifteen year period from 1950 through 1965, is the bulk of the Robert Motherwell exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

    In an interview between Motherwell and Max Kozloff, published in the September 1965 issue of Artforum, some insight into the artist’s position can be gleaned. When asked by Kozloff: “Do you consider that American painting ultimately rejected the tenets of French culture, as manifested in painting, during the forties?” Motherwell answered: “The moment the Americans were able to participate

  • David Simpson

    David Simpson has been a Bay Area resident since graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1950 (formerly California School of Fine Arts) and receiving a Master of Arts degree from San Francisco State. A ten-year retrospective of his work recently closed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

    Simpson’s work begins within a tradition of landscape. His early paintings combine the now familiar horizontal stripes with variegated spots and strokes of pigment, setting up an all-over diversity of directions with the picture plane. In the early work Simpson had already subordinated the

  • John Koenig and Masatoyo Kishi

    Beside the Motherwell exhibition, two expressionist painters, John Koenig at Woodside Gallery and Masatoyo Kishi at Gump’s Gallery, were on view at the same time in San Francisco.

    Both artist use complicated technical means to finish their paintings. Koenig uses a collage system where rice paper is glued over the canvas support and paint is applied over the paper as well as underneath. The generally thin, almost impoverished, look of the scrubbed paint is really the element that saves his work from becoming merely chic.

    Koenig’s paint and paste technique is quite straightforward when compared to

  • Jerrold Davis

    Jerrold Davis’s new paintings at the Quay Gallery are somewhat reminiscent of D. H. Lawrence’s Male and Female Allegories of thirty years ago. Davis is an awkward draftsman and a better than average colorist. The paintings are very powerful and are saved from abysmal ugliness by thin color application, running from transparent blues to creamy off-white.

    These current works differ from older examples in that Davis has decided to firmly render the figure rather than merely suggest it within the context of a basically abstract painting. Like Loran’s latest pictures, these seem transitional works

  • Fred Martin

    Fred Martin, the indefatigable collage-miniaturist of the Bay Area art world has, in recent months, devoted most of his energy to producing a series of etchings. The series was printed at the Crown Point Press in Richmond and bound in a limited number of handsomely designed books.

    The artist’s proofs were displayed at Dilexi Gallery and augmented by a number of preliminary drawings as well as some unrelated drawings. The series is called Bulah Land and contains depictions of the mythical landscape, objects, flowers and other paraphernalia of this sentimental locale. The prints are rendered in a

  • William Wiley

    William Wiley’s exhibition at Mills College Art Museum consists of paintings, constructions and poetry. The entire exhibition has an introspective feeling, but one is really unable to discern what form the introspection is taking. A piece entitled Art Through the Ages is made of that venerable history of art by Helen Gardner sewn up in a canvas bag and covered with beeswax. It is one of a series of constructed objects dealing with locked or sealed books. Wiley’s continuing concern for the paraphernalia of the art world is further exposed by a piece entitled The Red Easel. The easel in this case