reviews

  • “Viennese Expressionism, 1910–1924”

    University Art Gallery, University of California, Berkeley

    Egon Schiele’s drawings and paintings (ninety of them) dominate an excellent show that gives multiple insights into the brief moment of Viennese expressionism. Although the exhibit contains few oils, it manages to indicate what happened when art nouveau collided with expressionism in gilded, collapsing Vienna. At the same time it renders at least an outline of Schiele’s agonized image of man and demonstrates his impressive skill as draftsman and colorist.

    Schiele did not bother with “composition” in the academic sense, but that does not prevent his drawings from having the finesse one normally

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  • Charles Mattox

    San Francisco Museum of Art

    A challenging show of two minds. If much of contemporary sculpture can be called romantic because of the fey pleasure it derives from formal games with the debris and refuse of modern civilization, one group of Mattox’s “Objects Kinetic” is romantic, too: it suggests the games of an esthetic knight-errant tilting with the monsters of business automation. In taking on not the jetsam but the vital apparatus of society, Mattox heightens the romantic charm of his wry personal comment with a good dose of constructive social criticism.

    The “Little Tranquilizer,” the “Switcher Bitcher,” and related

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  • “Eskimo Prints”

    Stanford Art Gallery

    A new Eskimo art form was created when, in 1959, the Northern Affairs and National Resources Bureau of the Canadian Government established a craft center for printmaking at Cape Dorset, a small Arctic village on Baffin Island formerly known as Fox Peninsula.

    Evidence of the universal appeal of the prints is revealed in attendance records at exhibitions of such collections as that of Lilly Weil Jaffe of San Francisco, now committed to a busy exhibition schedule including galleries and universities in San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento, Oakland, Stanford and Santa Fe. This sudden, maybe too sudden,

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  • Robert B. Howard

    Howard pioneered the use of polyester resin and fibre glass shell forms in sculpture and is noted for his delicately balanced and beautifully articulated and engineered stabiles. Many excellent examples of his work can be found in public and private institutions in northern California. In his current exhibition he shows a small number of typical works including a further innovation, the floating stabile. He controls the materials and forms admirably, particularly in his use of low-keyed earth colors to tone the plastic material of the sculpture. Apart from some dubious low relief linear decorations

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  • Sidney Gordin

    Dilexi Gallery

    Presented in depth at the De Young Museum last year and also included in the “Arts of the Bay Area” at the San Francisco Museum during the summer, Gordin’s current exhibition reveals no basic shift or development in his sculpture. But the exhibition includes a number of very beautiful strongly contrasting black and white drawings which provide an excellent insight into Gordin’s vision. Totally eschewing that common cliche of many sculptors, the drawing “after” the sculpture or the drawing as a “plan” for a sculpture he investigates with eloquence and imagination the process underlying his art.

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  • Clayton Pinkerton

    De Young Museum

    Pinkerton’s list of degrees, prizes, foundation awards, and top exhibitions is a long and impressive one, but as with most painters today is more often than not a totally unreliable guide to merit. Pinkerton, in his current very large exhibition borrows Lobdell’s crusted paint surface (but totally fails to invest it with either the moral or plastic authority that is the essence of Lobdell’s art), and combines it with numerous superficial references to Jasper Johns’ iconography, Roy Lichtenstein’s use of figures and speech balloons from the comic strips, macabre skeletal images from Ensor, photo

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  • “Bay Area Group”

    San Francisco Art Institute

    One recent major painting each from Joel Barletta, Lundy Siegriest, Ralph T. Field, and William Wiley. Tapestry by Mark Adams. These artists have selected large paintings, indicative of their latest directions. Highlighting the show is the enormous tapestry, “Great Wing,” designed by Adams and woven in France by Paul Avignon. It was exhibited last summer in the Biennale International of Tapestry in Lausanne, Switzerland, but has not been previously shown in San Francisco. By spreading the wrist section of a huge wing diagonally across the picture plane, developing the feather pattern in brilliant

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  • Martin Baer, Amy Fleming, Jack Zajac and Harry Crotty

    California Palace of the Legion of Honor

    Traditional and abstract approaches to painting, traditional and articulated sculpture in old and new materials. In this survey of the career of Martin Baer (1894–1961) the earliest works are mainly of biographical interest, revealing him as a quasi-romanticist who loved travel but lacked the depth of feeling to fully respond to environment. His work in Algeria, for instance, was far more reportorial than inspired. In his later years, while living in California, his style loosened, and his palette became vibrant with high-keyed color. Abandoning his earlier people-watching attitude and involving

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  • David Lynn

    Richmond Art Center

    A young Californian sculptor recently out of the University of California at Berkeley, David Lynn is showing a group of lively pieces cast in aluminum and bronze. His work is abstract and has a bold, free, rhythmic character. There is an original spirit expressed here which at the same time shows its debt to two of his teachers, Harold Paris and Peter Voulkos. The strongest aspect are the movements of his forms. They flow, undulate, rise, fall, recede and come forward in a rich, intricate, lyrical and exciting way. This all-out use of rhythm results in a unified, harmonious and cohesive image.

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  • Harry Lum

    Richmond Art Center

    Lum’s exhibit consists of about a dozen largish canvases, which were originally conceived and are arranged here so that they can be viewed either singly or in sequence, as variations on a theme. Bowing slightly in the direction of Jasper Johns, Lum sets both his pictorial and dramatic idea with a “Tenement,” painted in a sort of “New Realist” manner—broadly brushed but plainly representational. As an allegorical image, this dreary container for Everyman embraces the two antithetical motifs figured in the other works: “ovens” and “bodies.” The rectangular image of the “Tenement” also sets the

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  • Charles Plymell and Jose Cross

    Batman Gallery

    The collage medium has been entreated to perform almost every visual task from the delineation of real objects with the very object being depicted, to the plastic function of operating almost inertly on the surface of a painting to add optic interest to the painting. Plymell’s collages ply somewhere between these two areas. The plastic quality of most of his work is totally overwhelmed by the overriding erotic content of the material employed in the construction of the collages. Where Salvador Dalí duplicated his own and probably other people’s dream images to create his surrealist paintings,

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  • Antonio Sotomayor

    de Young Museum

    This artist, primarily an illustrator and stage designer, was also formerly a cartoonist with a high ability to catch a likeness (a very necessary virtue in this particular art form). In his large exhibition of small works at this museum he again demonstrates his ability to catch a likeness, this time of other artists, Eugene Berman, Dalí, Henry Moore and Dufy.

    John Coplans

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  • Newell, Wentworth and Vanderveen

    de Young Museum

    Wentworth’s stitchery is the best work in the show. Excellent color and very inventive and emblematic forms. Newell, an excellent craftsman in stone, carves pedestrian sculptures reminiscent of Brancusi. Vanderveen’s pottery is unbelievably offensive, banal and commercial.

    John Coplans

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  • Harry Bowden and Eugene Courtois

    Frederick Hobbs Galleries

    Landscapes and figures by a refugee from abstraction, and sensitive studies of falcons and torsos by a young unknown. Harry Bowden (Calif.), a onetime student of, and later, assistant to Hans Hofmann, was one of the first American artists to break through into abstraction. Recently returned to figuration, Bowden builds up his landscapes, the better of his works in this show, from an “inner painting” much in the manner of Cézanne, finishing with energetic strokes of fat paint in rich color. This loose surface brushwork is the only remaining trace of Hofmann’s influence. He often uses a bridge as

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  • Bella Feldman and Erik Gronborg

    Bolles Gallery

    Perhaps the most striking development in contemporary art is the renewal of interest in the object—and the effort of the artist to see the object as poetry. Both Feldman and Gronborg make this effort, with Gronborg being the more successful in this exhibition.

    Mrs. Feldman, mannered at times, is more notable for her metal textures than her subject interpretation. Two figure pieces present current aspects of handling the nude: “Bone Torso,” reclining on its side, is interesting as shape but becomes repellent as subject matter, raising the hope that contemporary artists will soon tire of the too,

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  • Umberto Foppiani

    Pantechnicon

    Foppiani is perhaps one of the best known and most collected of the post-war generation of Italian painters. His work is found in many local collections, the most notable being the Zellerbach, displayed recently at the San Francisco Museum. Foppiani’s productions are like super-sumptuous Klee with a smidge of Victor Brauner flung in. Somewhere, along with these influences; spectres of ritual Greek and Etruscan beasties become incorporated onto his painting surfaces. The extrinsic quality of Foppiani’s oeuvre is the most interesting aspect of his work. A flat fresco-like treatment of figures,

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  • Iqbal Geoffrey

    Lewis and Vidal Gallery

    Geoffrey, a Pakistani artist born in 1939, has had an extraordinarily eventful career despite his youth. After having earned a law degree at 20 years of age, he was launched into the artistic world with a one man show in a London gallery. He is presently painting under the aegis of a Huntington Hartford Fellowship. On display at this fairly new Walnut Creek gallery are small gouache paintings, some mixed media works plus a number of ink drawings. The best pictures in the show possess a strong graphic quality enhanced by a natural spontaneity. The imagery used in the paintings is a variegated

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  • Ernest Lacy

    Galerie de Tours

    Figures and still lifes, mainly. There are contemporary painters who remain nonentities without being bad. Non-entities because they have no content; not bad, because they generally follow the lines of a well-accepted pattern. Lacy falls into this category. His figures come from Michelangelo by way of Kokoschka and Corinth, with some innovations of his own. He makes no attempt to disguise his sources. But his development deserves watching—there are few artists his age with surer draftsmanship.

    Elizabeth M. Polley

     

     

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  • Mary Meinke and Michael Fong

    Hollis Galleries

    Miss Meinke approaches her canvases with great vigor. And the force of her attack plummets her through numerous painterly passages. Had she been a mite less resolute, miserable failures would have resulted. Unfortunately for her, athletic application of paint does not make up for a lack of ideas concerning what to do with a particular painting. Miss Meinke, a young artist, would do well to examine and concern herself with what she desires to paint rather than relying on her working materials to reveal a subject during the act of painting.

    Michael Fong, also a young Bay Area artist, presents work

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  • Pat Traubel

    Quay Gallery

    The clusters of paint on white primed canvas remind one of patches or slabs of land seem from great height or vast distance. Because of the high-keyed color and the formal feeling of shapes employed, it would seem that Miss Traubel is concerned with the formal pictorial qualities of each work primarily and only secondarily with the finished picture’s reference to particular landscapes. Many of her canvases are above average in interest, although almost all pose problems which the artist has yet to solve successfully.

    James Monte

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  • Margaret Smith and William Luft

    Labaudt Gallery

    Margaret Smith’s paintings are semi-abstract oils of cityscapes, waterfront scenes and landscapes; they are rendered in crisp cubist divisions over which is floated thin coats of clear, rather atmospheric color.

    Luft exhibits three distinct styles in this group of recent paintings: a loose, realistic genre style, a semi-abstract approach which makes use of overlapping color planes with deep space rarely suggested, and a totally non-objective approach wherein the two-dimensional canvas is treated as a completely flat surface with no hint of deep space. The painter instinctively composes more

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  • Ryonosuke Fukui

    Lanyon Gallery

    Ryonosuke Fukui’s low edition prints are, for the most part, combinations of various printing techniques. He works with myriad types of subject matter managing each with a great deal of technical mastery. The soft ground etching skill appears ideally suited to the poetic approach Fukui favors.

    James Monte

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  • Gertrude Venton

    Edward Quill Gallery

    Abstract expressionism, derived from landscape. Miss Venton vacillates between figurative and non-figurative work, with bold color and some very confused brushwork. Ruthless pruning could have given her a small, acceptable exhibition.

    Elizabeth M. Polley

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  • “Limited Pulls”

    Original Prints

    Signed limited editions from artists of Atelier 17, Paris, including a number from the master printer, Hayter, are featured at this little gallery specializing in contemporary prints. A choice selection by Marian Britton, director.

    Elizabeth M. Polley

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  • Abram Krol

    Paris Art Gallery

    Krol’s exhibiting career began in 1946 with a one man show at Galerie Katia Granoff in Paris. Since that time he has received much official recognition from the French government as well as other European and American libraries, museums and collectors. It is easy to see why when one views Krol’s prints and paintings. His work typifies a middle of the road approach to modern painting and printmaking. Krol’s output makes palatable the more radical innovations of the earlier generation of Cubists and Surrealists.

    James Monte

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  • Daniel Mendelwitz

    Stanford Art Gallery

    Mendelwitz’ stiff, linearly defined watercolors attempt to capture the topographic qualities of specific places: hill towns in southern France, panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, stands of trees in Italy, etc. In order to retain the feeling of his locale, obviously his goal in all these works, the artist should scrutinize his approach to using the watercolor medium. Watercolor must be applied freely with a minimum of picking with small brushes if the final effect is to manifest any freshness at all.

    James Monte

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  • Group Show

    Ed Lesser Gallery

    Gideon Sandlin’s poetic paintings of people are arresting interpretations of the Blue and Pink Periods of Picasso. The other work in this exhibit was of little interest.

    James Monte

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  • “Student Sculpture from the University of California”

    Key Equipment Company

    An Oakland welding supplies firm, the Key Equipment Company, has offered a permanent display room for exhibitions of welded sculpture by students at the University of California. This second show seems to be made up primarily from the work of less advanced students; at any rate it is not representative of the best work turned out at the University. Nearly all the student sculptors seen here stick to well-established modes. Many of them, as might be expected, have been strongly influenced by the work of their instructors, particularly Gordin and Zogbaum.

    In the best work, however, such as that by

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  • Alexander Nepote, Ken Morrow and Tio Giambruni

    Barrios Gallery, Sacramento

    Oils, watercolors, collages, cast bronzes and one tentacled magna-site creation by three well-established Bay Area artists.

    Nepote has developed the infinite patterns of bare rocks, tumbling waters and snowdrifts of the High Sierras into an individual statement about variables and constants and primordial beginnings—the causa causans of the fields and rivers in the rich valley below. He is not obvious or sentimental about this, his work at first impresses solely by its powerful abstract design, as exciting to the artist as to the geologist or philosopher.

    Where Nepote raids geology for inspiration,

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  • Edgar Dorsey Taylor and Gail Wong

    Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento

    Woodblock prints of Mexican subjects and European cafe society, romantic abstraction by a young Boston artist now living in California, plus a group show of works from the Sacramento Artists League and some prize-winning photographs from the Sierra Camera Club.

    Taylor has the outstanding show here, with a tremendous range of subject matter and extraordinary capability in woodcutting. At times frankly illustrative, he can also be as expressionistic as either Munch or Schmidt-Rottluff. Coastal Baja California, with its brilliant sunshine and spectral landscape, lends itself to black-and-white, and

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