San Francisco

“Forty-Six Works From New York”

Dilixi Gallery

The exhibition at the Dilexi Gallery fulfills the same function as did the recently displayed “Directions: American Painting” at the San Francisco Museum of Art. Space considerations naturally limited the choices the gallery was able to make. The show, therefore, is composed of forty-six works made up of drawings, watercolors, collages and small-scale paintings.

Five ink drawings by Barnett Newman, possibly pre-dating his “Onement” series (1946), are quite important objects in the history of American art and should be treated as such. Their appearance in a private gallery in San Francisco is rather extraordinary since Newman’s drawings from this period are difficult to see even in the East. Hopefully one of the West Coast museums will have the perspicacity to buy the group.

Willem de Kooning is represented by four works, among them a fine portrait drawing, completed in 1946, that is amazingly like a Larry Rivers head ten years later. A telephone book page serves as a format for a Franz Kline wash drawing completed at a crucial time in the artist’s career when he was working out visual problems on a small scale, which led to such paintings as Cardinal, exhibited at the artist’s first one man exhibit in 1950. Kline’s drawings, like Newman’s, relate directly and unmistakably to his paintings. The change in scale and material is significant; fluid brushloads of ink of half-inch width become great ten-inch paths of black brushed over freshly applied white paint leaving roughened edges where white and black meet. The transition from small to large was difficult for Kline and yet solvable, and now the observer is in a position, after the act, to read back into the drawings all the accomplishment that followed them.

The exhibit includes further works of the highest standards, notably from Agnes Martin, Richard Lindner, George Deem and Neil Williams. The exhibition satisfies what is, in the most meaningful sense, an educational function, and the Dilexi deserves applause for it.

James Monte