San Francisco

“Some Points of View––’62”

Stanford University Art Gallery

An invitational show by some of the Bay Area’s more famous artists, fortunately running con­currently with a definitive exhibition of “British Art Today” at the San Francisco Museum of Art, discussed elsewhere in this issue and offering some interesting comparisons. Almost all contemporary approaches are evident in each show, from abstract expressionism through ro­mantic realism. On first reaction, the Stanford show seems more concerned with the human figure, but, actually, it has no greater percentage of figure paintings. In fact, neither especially em­phasizes the figure, although a number of Bay Area artists do place a subtle importance upon the immediate environ­ment of man, thus suggesting his pres­ence. (And in a more companionable manner than their confreres who use the figure as subject.) Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff, for instance, both paint figures haunted by human soli­tude, separated from environment, seeming to belong to that same commu­nity of loneliness created by Goya on the ceiling of the chapel of San Antonio de la Florida on the outskirts of Madrid. This characteristic solitude seems to separate Bay Area figure painters from others of the same idiom, and may be what has erroneously given rise to the identification of the Berkeley area with a figurative school. In fact, the main point made by the Stanford show is that, while there are certain common local qualities among the central California artists one can not justify any special school. There are 47 artists represented, which obviously does not include all of the top artists of the area, and they seem to have been selected as much for their differences as their similarities. The show is hung in a labyrinth of small open-ended cubicles, permitting unin­terrupted study of the works singly or in very small groups. This has the advan­tage of allowing each artist to make his point either independently or in concert with a few others of similar bent. For example, the assemblages, reliefs and tableaus of Bruce Conner, Roy De Forest, and John Baxter. These art forms, neither painting nor sculpture per se, are complex and sometimes playful statements about specific times and areas. Dick Faralla is the classicist of this group although his refined ron­delle relief, one of the purchase award winners, is shown in another section along with the cerebral sculpture of Jeremy Anderson, who shows an un­titled redwood, totemic in spirit, surrealistically suggesting a certain saucy sexiness. Theirs is esoteric art, at the opposite end of expression from the electrically automated mobile-stabile of beer cans welded millwise around a metal drum by Wally Hedrick shown in another ell. Hedrick’s Soul Thing could suggest that even the soul is coin-operated in ’62. That’s one point of view. Purchase awards in painting went to Art Holman and Bryan Wilson. Holman is a nature abstractionist whose foliated textures are stimulating as such, and Wilson paints birds in those constellations they form and reform in their daily activities. This is a highly selective show, with one exhibit from each artist, invited by Ninfa Valvo, cura­tor of paintings at the De Young Mu­seum, and John F. Humphrey, curator of paintings, San Francisco Museum of Art. If any conclusions may be drawn from it, they would be that Bay Area artists are as concerned with techniques as artists of other areas (including the British, notable for their technical ex­periments); that San Francisco, the ob­vious center of the area, influences but does not devour the artists; that nature derivations figure strongly in any regional quality of the works; that as a port of entry the area is too unprotected to foster a definite regionalism; and that Bay Area artists are confident enough of their own worth to not become mere reflections of New York although they are obviously cognizant of what is going on there.

E. M. Polley