Los Angeles

North West Coast and Harry Hubbell

Harry A. Franklin Gallery

A small but excellent collection of North West Coast art objects complements the showing of works by the young New Mexico sculptor, Harry Albert Hubbell. Several of the tribal pieces from British Columbia date back to 1880, and provide interesting comparison with more recent productions. A Chieftain’s Headdress from the Tlingit tribe, a Hawk Mask from from the Kwakiutl and a silver bracelet once worn by a Haida princess are only three of several fine pieces. It is the vitality of these primitive expres­sions that makes them meaningful even when the signification of their symbol­ism is not fully understood. Even more complex is the ambiguous imagery with which Harry Hubbell invests his clay sculptures. They are more primitive than are the primitive arts, filled with the demons of the universe, with the forces that shape birth, life and death, and with the psychic processes of a Jungian subconscious. Hubbell gives no clue as to the meaning of his images. Some are permeated with humor, some with hor­ror. The full range of man’s experience seems to be incorporated in these rather crudely fashioned clay forms. On the whole they are far more linear than they are sculptural, less modeled than con­structed. Pellets of half-formed clay images that are drawn into are piled one on another. The textural quality of the natural grout in the clay is augmented by random cuts incised in the material. Occasionally color is added. The final complex of images, totemic in character, often bears a relation to the late works of Lipchitz. Although they do not pos­sess the same monumentality, they are, for certain, the product of a prolific imagination. Disarmingly honest, dis­turbingly provocative, they are unique without apparent intent to be so.

Constance Perkins