Los Angeles

Bettina Brendel

Pasadena Art Museum

Bettina Brendel, who was born in Luneburg, was invited to show with the first group of abstract painters in post-war Germany in 1951. That same year she came to the United States. Her canvases at the Pasadena Art Museum date from 1960 when she was involved in an over-all horizontal and vertical orientation of rectangular screen-like areas. The ground was flat and the negative space almost non­existent. In 1961, particularly in the “Density” series, the screen pattern be­comes one of sticks in tension. In Den­sity VII there begins a kind of re­versal in the ground where color areas and pattern exchange tonalities. Briefly, in Den­sity VII  a vertical black edge introduces the conscious use of the negative space image. It is in Se­quence of 1962 that the full realiza­tion of positive and negative space takes place in a black and white quat­ernion that is beautifully integrated. Part of the integration is due to the introduction of form which, although loosely bounded, becomes an image apparently independent in each of the canvases yet dependent on its place in the sequence. The grounds, sometimes white, sometimes black, are brought into engagement by the introduction of a subtle textural treatment. Gravita­tion (1962) is exquisitely conceived. The form, still composed of fragmented lines in tension, gains greater fluidity as these sticks are varied in both weight and color. Edge of the Void is en­tirely successful in its ingenious uni­fication of idea and esthetic means. Unfortunately the integration is not as effective in the paper collage version. of the same theme. This is also true of the collages Migration #1 and Mi­gration, #2 in which the associational image is forced, loosing the poetic metaphor of flight that is so vital a part of Velocity (oil, 1962). However, Bettina Brendel’s recent experimentations in collage should not be dis­missed either. She is, with them, as she. has been with her oil canvases, in the process of resolving the formal dis­ciplines necessary to realize her ideas. Experimentation is necessary. To begin with she has limited herself to a single white paper which can be cut, torn, wrinkled, or in a few instances other­wise textured. Within these limitations, Gradation 2 is most successful.

––Constance Perkins