San Francisco

Kenneth Callahan

San Francisco Museum of Art

The artist, the dealer, the collector and the museum are a formidable combination when their tim­ing and teamwork mesh properly. We have a lovely example of the coalition in the retrospective exhibit given Mr. Kenneth Callahan at the San Francisco Museum of Art.

The dealer is the Maynard Walker Gal­lery in New York. The collector is Mrs. Emily Winthrop Miles. The Museum is the San Francisco Museum of Art. The dealer deals: he sells droves of Mr. Calla­han’s paintings to Mrs. Miles. Then he writes the catalog: to no one’s surprise, he pronounces his artist “a genius” and his collector a woman of most discrimi­nating taste. Then he palms off the whole works––artist, collection and catalog––on the San Francisco Museum of Art. Nice going.

Callahan’s paintings can be described by his preoccupations and influences. In order of appearance these are: the masters, Giotto, Michaelangelo and El Greco, the cosmic imagery of Blake, Chinese scroll paintings and finally, an all-over surrealistic image. The paint­ing, Rock Fragment packs all the aforementioned into a 17 3/4'' by 14 1/2'' format. Callahan’s ink drawings on dampened paper recall Chinese paint­ings of various epochs. His paintings are eclectic in the worst possible manner. They include so many undigested influ­ences that the majority of works evoke many levels of art history rather than single unified statements which reflect the 20th century.

James Monte