William Wilson

  • Biology 101 invades Art History 407. The canary graduates, with flying colors.

    PITY THE SEA SLUG APLYSIA, famous in biological circles for its predictability, manipulability, and naiveté. Poke an Aplysia in the side and it’ll withdraw its gill (whether in terror or in pique, it’s impossible to say); poke it every twenty seconds or so for several minutes and the animal, on to the game, stops cringing. Now pat it just once on its little head or its little flipper—a new stimulus—and you’ll find the gill-withdrawal reflex is back in full force. Biologists call this phenomenon habituation. As sensory experiences go, habituation is fairly complex, believed to involve not only

  • the return of an endangered species—the artist's model.

    IN 1907, IN THE New York Herald, a woman named Charlotte Eaton wrote, “I was hopelessly lonely and forlorn—yea, worse. I was hungry, unable to get anything to do because of inexperience, and at the end of my tether. So one day—it came to me like a flash! An artists' model! Why not? I knew myself in possession of a strong and shapely physique, and that gave me courage” Has a familiar ring, wouldn't you say? Probably just how Veruschka felt. Ditto those guys body-snatched by Bruce Weber, one by one, from lifeguard stands and water polo teams all across the country.

    From the beginning, the model

  • Courrèges in a snit. Sprouse in a spot. St. Laurent in an art book.

    “THE MANNEQUIN LOOKS LIKE a filling station attendant in a room at the Ritz. . . . She is a peach, an apple. . . . She is a modern girl who has journeyed through ancient Sparta!” The year is 1965, the place is Paris, the speaker is Violette Leduc, leftist intellectual and best-selling author now on assignment for Vogue, and the subject is a fashion show. Not just any fashion show, though: this one belongs to André Courrèges, the man who—and it’s 20 years ago, remember—is determined to revolutionize haute couture, to usher it into the space age, to blur forever the distinction between socialite

  • Richard Avedon, Sam Shepard, Joan Didion, and the pull of the American West.

    “THERE'S NO SUCH THING as the West anymore! It’s a dead issue!” says Austin, the successful, the socialized of two feuding (and screenwriting) brothers in Sam Shepard’s play True West. What Austin means is that the old romantic myths have been exhausted, that while it’s still possible to “camp out on the desert” and “talk to cactus” the experience won’t lead to much in the way of adventure or of new frontiers.

    Apparently nobody told Richard Avedon. For five consecutive summers he trekked through 17 Western states, Kansas to California, Montana to Texas, “going to truck stops, stockyards, walking

  • Larry Rivers

    Larry Rivers concocts brilliance. Half-a-dozen unforgettable paintings stud his thirteen-year career. But nothing he has painted equals the guile with which he has painted it. Rivers’ artful dodges signal the triumph of craftiness over craft.

    Nervous, shifting, ambitious paintings evoke shades of artists whose drive surmounted severe limitations—Courbet, Manet, Gauguin. Rivers’ early variation on Courbet’s Funeral at Ornans scarcely resembles it but it does indicate the spiritual bond between the two revolutionaries. Today Courbet’s revolt seems simple. He struck a firm about-face posture as a

  • Jess Collins, Judy Gerowitz, Irving Petlin, Robert Indiana, George Herms, Lowell Nesbitt, Lynn Foulkes, and Lloyd Hamrol

    This group show introduced a couple of new people to the gallery’s regular stable. With few exceptions it proves how much more satisfying contemporary artists are when seen individually. It sets one to wondering if the bad old days of the masterpiece and the tour-de-force are altogether gone.

    Robert Indiana comes as close as anyone to giving a work that is all his work compounded. An enormous yellow and black format in form of a fat “X” strikes us as more fruitful than all his recent number pictures added up. Each segment of the work contains a circle divided horizontally. In the top half of each

  • Joan Miro

    A brief but significantly fine selection of gouaches and drawings by the Spanish Surrealist defy commentary both because of the extensive writings on him and the assertive mastery of most of the works.

    The sheets touch major periods between 1934–1960. Characteristic wise-child forms and ominous humor are already reflected in Sandpaper Collage (1934) which shows vestigial interest in Analytic Cubism, while Graphism-Poeme (1953) manifests a wildness that may represent an exchange of influence between him and the art brut of Jean Dubuffet.

    Four small pen drawings look like those master scribbles

  • Charles White and Ernest Lacy

    Both of these Southern California artists demonstrate the importance of knowing one’s medium. In their work technique is not simply a question of making a good thing look a little better by executing it properly, it is the crucial factor of quality.

    Both of them are printmakers who deal in traditional imagery. There is little in conception or composition to distinguish them and yet they gain a certain distinction because they are able to calculate the effects of a wipe, bite or cut.

    White makes large linocuts of patriarchal figures. His understanding of relief printing techniques contributes

  • Carol Tolin

    Individual personality is the main attraction of this first one-man show. It comes through the pastiche of the artist’s admirations with surprising strength. Tolin shadows forth sensuous romanticism in odd interior colors; purple, magenta and turquoise. There is an almost fetishistic fascination with the female figure which is much further to the side of psychological involvement with subject than is ever true of her mentors—de Kooning, Diebenkorn, and Oliveira.

    Tolin’s is a job well done but half completed. She must bring her drawing and composition up to the level of her feeling and color.

  • Georgia Vester

    Deeply influenced by Rico Lebrun, Vester however differs radically from her teacher. She has inherited his interest in dimensional anatomy but such considerations are nullified by her own tendency to see in flat shapes and textures. Imagine a Lebrun figure arbitrarily cut from its paper so the figure becomes unclear. This shape, now independent, is mounted on paper and worked in polymer or soft collage material. The effect is softer, more comfortable, and design-like. It adapts itself well to such works as her illustrations for poems by Quasimodo in which the handsomeness of the page is more

  • Donald Lagerberg

    Death, illusion, and paradox are themes of Donald Lagerberg’s art. Commonly such subjects are gaseous generalities barely disguising an artist’s endeavor to unnerve us. Such is not apparently the case in this artist’s first one-man exhibition. Lagerberg is a craftsman, an eclectic, and an intellectual. His terms are as concrete as are the terms of his admirations; Spanish mannerism, Northern baroque, Francis Bacon. His facets are unified by his emotional preoccupations.

    Death is amply demonstrated in a memento mori after Hals’ “The Laughing Cavalier”; the insouciant mask of the face literally

  • Jan Stussy

    Stussy’s catalog statement is appropriately modest. He characterizes himself as unsure and searching. Nothing of this shows in his work. It is assured, mature and powerful. This UCLA professor, like many teacher-artists, occasionally appears academic. Possibly it is his awareness of this that has led him to emphasize drawing techniques such as cross-contour or pattern-to-shape, employing them as elegant, over-all compositional devices, turning an analytical tendency to good use.

    His current showing is dominated by figure paintings on brown masonite. Making use of his ground he creates full form

  • Ward Kimball, Jack Stuck, John Battenberg, Roger Baird, R. Hartman, Paul Pernisch, Ronald Grow, Ihle, Tom Akawie, Dennis Beall, D. McClellan, G.R. Kerciu, Ramon Cadiz, Pat Tavenner, Ed Higgins, and Lew Carlson

    Hung in Occidental’s auditorium lobby, the exhibit has a curiously transient, uneasy air. Works were selected from artists of the Comara Gallery by Occidental art professor, Constance Perkins. It is slated to travel to such exotic spots as Utah and Anchorage under the Western Association of Art Museums. Miss Perkins’ idea was to group works reflecting the effect of Pop yet somehow avoid that stance. It seemed that the recurrent parallel was Pop’s ironical detachment.

    By definition we face works which stand in the same relation to the avant-garde as did, say, Fra Angelico to Pollaiuolo. Mixed in

  • John Altoon, Anthony Berlant, Jesus A. Martinez, Peter Krasnow, Helen Lundeberg and Oliver Andrews

    Lorser Feitelson headed the selection committee for this group show. What “Art Now” really defines is a light survey of the year’s gallery offerings by local artists. There are representative selections of local practitioners of Pop, Op, Formal, Cool, Figurative, and Abstract Expressionist modes. Some good people are left out, inept people are in. The affair is unpretentious, excepting the title.

    Half a dozen of the twenty-odd artists make it worth the trip: John Altoon shows a large pastel drawing, so lively and accomplished as to suggest that Gorky’s brand of poetic abstraction is reborn,

  • Vasa

    A promising first sortie into striped box-making. The majority of pieces are rectangular solids. Their major virtue is an impeccable glassy surface. No one in the spray-booth set, has to my knowledge, refined their finish to this pitch. Vasa has, in most cases, used colors that reflect our technological society. They look okay but his departures into subtler, more refined hues strike one as being more comfortably his own.

    Much of the work fails to dramatize dimensional character. Vasa has been a painter up to now and he has understandably conceived his work like one accustomed to composing in

  • Bruce Beasley

    Vanguard esthetics have already marked Beasley’s sculpture with time––but such observations dodge the issue of quality. Most individual pieces offer considerable satisfaction. They are like fragments of a mechanical wreckage imprinted with qualities of movement, impact and fusion by heat. These violent suggestions are tempered by a graceful linearity which leads one to such chimerical descriptions as: “powerfully refined” or “tasteful candor.” The work is ultimately easy and ingratiating. An over-all view of the cast pieces and jointed reliefs (also cast) suggests that the artist, rather than

  • Group Show

    The impression is of bright colors, clear shapes, and depths upon which no one insists. Uniting the five participating artists is a concern more to fill in shapes than to dazzle, or deepen with complex technique, more to color than to comment but more to comment than to compose.

    On the whole, the comments are witty.

    Kirsten Kraa’s funniness comes most strongly from her grouped work. She endlessly repeats a geometric man whose eyes and sunglasses have fused. He stares at us, abandoning some desultory amusement; blowing a bubble, playing a record, or sucking a sugar stick. Dutifully, he is about

  • James Hueter

    His sculptures and drawings are all about poetic anguish and sex. In form they reflect an awareness of Moore and Brancusi but in spirit they belong to the attenuated sensibility of the end of the century, and to Northern romanti­cism. Mask and Hands has the sad­ness of Lehmbruck, a drawing of some floating nudes relates directly to a study by Gustav Klimt, flowing half­-torsos in bronze are sculptural transcriptions of the same idea. There is a curious unwillingness to make a state­ment that is evidenced by the general­ity of the works. Hueter seems either to quit just short of commitment or to

  • Group Show

    Every gallery inclines, more or less consciously, to a clientele. Seekers after disturbance or outrageous novelty rarely find satisfaction at the Galerie De Ville; it is located amid decorator’s shops. Their late group show assembled such confident pros as: Phillipe Marchand, Andre Vignoles, Corbellini, and Spazalli. A painting by any one of them could serve as the leitmotif for a splendid room.

    Together, the pictures evoke memories of your trip to Paris—especially if you’ve never been. They console you with good taste. They are the bright, well-bred companions of many a weary, mauve afternoon.

  • Katherine Kadell

    Her sculptures are modest in size. Her emotion and technique, when successful, are equally modest. Such immaterial feelings as nostalgia or contemplation are pleasantly clear in a female torso and a seated female in bronze. A small bull and a sheet bronze relief avoid the tentative lumpiness of other works by being simple. She falls farthest where she aims highest; operatic statements are not her metier. Only once does she strike a sonorous note, in a stone Sacrificial Altar that outstrips its size. For the rest she exhibits unpaid debts to Barlach, Rodin, Degas and others with whom she shares