Los Angeles

“The Grape and Wine in Graphic Art”

A traveling exhibition of more than pass­ing interest, this exhibition was com­piled from the collection of Paul Masson and brought to the County Museum by its History Department. The exhibition is a comprehensive cross-section of prints historically (from an illuminated parchment leaf from a late 15th century Book of Hours to a whimsical lithograph by Picasso dated 1956) and stylistically (with caricatures by Thomas Rowland­son and Honoré Daumier, botannical illustrations, country views, fable illus­trations, and mythological scenes). One would assume, too, that the thematic coverage is as comprehensive, with peo­ple represented growing grapes, harvest­ing grapes, making wine, selling wine, and just plain enjoying wine. Despite this representative cross-sectioning in three major areas, the exhibition is not without weaknesses, most of which can be explained by the fact that it is ex­tremely difficult to compile a “theme” exhibition of this kind. The temptation is to sacrifice artistic status and esthetic excellence for thematic pertinence, and the grape and wine have succumbed, at least in part. To be sure, the exhibition includes artists of stature and prints of merit; but the standard of quality estab­lished by the inclusion of such artists as Antonio da Trento, Currier and Ives, Marc Chagall, Maillol, Picasso, and Frasconi is, unfortunately, not maintained throughout. Much of the inherent charm of the exhibition is lost through no at­tempt to group the material historically, stylistically, or thematically. It suffers, too, from the absence of a descriptive catalog, which would have imposed cohesion and direction on the material. In spite of these several drawbacks, the exhibition is a pleasant one with many levels of appeal.

Vir­ginia Allen