Los Angeles

“The Stieglitz Circle”

Fine Arts Pa­trons, Pavilion Gallery, Balboa

Exhibition chairmen, Mrs. Robert Barnes and Mrs. Dottie Ahmanson, brought this circulating show from New York and supplemented it with loans from Cali­fornia collections. (It was originally or­ganized by the Museum of Modern Art in N.Y.)

More than anyone else, Alfred Stieglitz (born in Hoboken, 1864; died in N.Y., 1946) gathered around him, encouraged, exhibited, wrote, lectured and lived the best in art, and stands at the helm of America’s entry into the artistic avant­garde. Or, looking at it from another viewpoint, he is one of those rare men at the beginning of this century who, through perseverance and integrity, has been the focus for talented men and women in many fields. After his death American art seems to have disassem­bled into many groups and schools, so that today a man like Dr. Robert Oppen­heimer can write “ . . . in the great suc­cession of deep discoveries we have become removed from one another in tradition and in a certain measure even in language . . . We have had neither the time, skill or dedication to tell one another what we have learned, nor to welcome its enrichment of the common culture.” Stieglitz and his friend, Ed­ward Steichen virtually made photography into an art form, and developed its technical possibilities to such an extent that even today photographers are hard put to match their accom­plishments. The handful of prints here bear witness to this. In 1905, Stieglitz founded the Photo-Secession gallery, usually referred to as “291.” It quickly branched out from photography into pioneering all arts, European or Ameri­can. The 12 artists represented here were but a part of a large group of firsts whom Stieglitz sponsored, boost­ed, helped and launched. His widow, Georgia O’Keefe, is represented by only one of her symbolic flower-pieces (Hibiscus, 1939, oil) and one of her ab­stract landscapes (Black Door with Snow, 1955, oil). The French portraitist­-turned-sculptor, Gaston Lachaise, is shown by 3 small but marvelous bronze pieces and one drawing (belonging to Mr. and Mrs. G. Nordland) whose line is so very much like Matisse’s of that time. Max Weber was possibly the most ex­perimental of this group of painters. There are two polychromed, cubist sculptures (1915), a 1917 oil (Two Musi­cians) and three more, undated oils that illustrate the range of his oeuvre. Arthur Dove, with his large, quiet, richly col­ored abstractions is represented by only four oils in the show (dating 1910, ’29, ’43, ’44.) Marsden Hartley and New Eng­land always seem inseparable, even when the painting is entitled Garmisch-­Partenkirchen (1933). John Marin, the dean of watercolorists is represented with six watercolors and one etching. There are five Demuth pictures, of which Vaudeville (1917) is the most typical and strongest.

Also in the show are works by Bluem­ner, Carles, Maurer, Nadelman. Since all these men were involved, in one way or another with the famed Armory show that recently closed in New York for the second time in fifty years it is appro­priate that Californians be offered a glimpse into the “Stieglitz Circle” at this time.

Irma E. Desenberg