Los Angeles

“Drawings, Watercolors, Prints by Modern Masters”

Gerhard Pinkus Gallery

A discerning and intriguing col­lection of works by recognized artists from the first half of this century is offered in an environment scaled to the human dimension. As an art dealer, Mr. Pinkus replaces the merchant’s blatancy with the quiet enthusiasm of a friend, who, in the familiar nearness of a small room, decides to share his treasures with his guests. This dimension of in­timacy is appropriate to the works which are of modest size and were intended to be seen at fairly close range. Predomi­nantly expressive rather than formal studies, side-by-side on one wall of the present exhibition a Rouault color aqua­tint, a Barlach woodcut and Kollwitz lithographs remind us of the medieval­ism and lamentation which dominated the Northern European’s consciousness throughout an age of bitter change. In contrast to the didacticism of the Expressionists, Jacques Villon’s color aquatint, Les Femmes d’Quessant is pensive and nocturnal in mood. The print is rare since Villon made very few using these rich and somber colors.

Among Mr. Pinkus’s collection from “Die Brucke,” a watercolor of nudes in a forest by Otto Mueller is surprisingly structural in form, seeming to belong to Cézanne’s epigoni rather than the more familiar linkage with Gauguin. Another mood pervades a Kirchner linear draw­ing in pastel; the artist wryly exorts an acrid effect from the nubile theme of two encouched Olympias and their mirror reflection overhead. Unlike Muel­ler and Kirchner who used the nude thematically, Marcel Gromaire in a hand­some and brilliant watercolor, Woman by the Window, glories in organic and sensuous form, making the surging plant and living caryatid reciprocal ele­ments of a pleasurable whole. His lus­ciousness of color and shape is height­ened through bold black gestures, for while Rouault encloses forms by his use of black, Gromaire sends a throbbing rhythm across the page.

The two prints by Jules Pascin, who has enjoyed only minimal renown, show an intriguing capacity to combine an af­fection for human forms as they gather socially, with a linear disdain for the petty elegancies that men employ to distinguish themselves. In the first state of his lithograph Music Hall, done in the mid-twenties, the thin short curves of lines set up a chatter of breasts and round faces and backs bent in conversa­tion, which from the artist’s overview distinguishes the audience in terms of visual motifs rather than any literary commentary. Giacometti is represented by an etching, Bouquet II, but his usual austerity here only reaches the level of sparseness. The physical unity of a two-dimensional surface demands spacial emphasis through the artist’s marks as they relate to the shape of the page. In this example, Giacometti is having difficulties with a rectangular page that is close to the proportions of a square. Through his sameness of line quality and within the present indica­tions for vertical and horizontal divi­sions, he has not yet succeeded in establishing either equilibrium or dia­lectic. Works by Miró, Braques and Renoir are also included in the collec­tion. 

Rosalind G. Wholden