San Francisco

Byron Burford

Art Unlimited

Professor Burford’s recent oil paintings (of which the topical theme, quite incidentally, is ‘War’) presents a collection of placid, blandly refined essays on style, comprising the meditations of a seasoned academician upon certain idioms in American art from the WPA era to the late 1940’s. In such statements as “Women Making Munitions” (1963) the painting of details alludes unmistakably to Edward Hopper. But it is with syntax rather than with painting that Burford is primarily concerned. He is intrigued by that amalgamation of the figurative themes of “social comment” with the architectonics of massive simplification and static balance characteristic of the monumental mural painting of the decades he contemplates. References to Orozco, Shahn and to the mid-Western regionalists are combined in a considerable variety of ways, but by far the most appealing of Professor Burford’s exhibits is the painting entitled “Concert for Blind Veterans” (1963), manifestly an homage to Stephen Greene. There is neither emotion nor new insight in these genteel academic retrospections; their peculiar charm consists rather in consummate reflective detachment free from the tensions of original involvement.

Palmer D. French