San Francisco

Elmer Bischoff

Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento

A special preview of 10 paintings and 8 drawings from Bischoff’s Spring-scheduled exhibition at Staempfli’s, in New York. The purpose of the Bischoff preview is to select one of his works for the Crocker Gallery’s Contemporary Collection.

An incurable romantic, Bischoff still holds mainly to figurative painting, and currently favors rounded, strongly modeled figures reminiscent of Corot’s Italiennes. Stripped to their bare emotions, they stand, clothed or nude, staring with unquenchable yearning toward a far horizon, or gazing with tender narcissism into a mirror or pool.

Some of his more recent works use the figure as a foil for a syrupy sea, oncoming in great undulating waves under a heavy, drooping sky. The undulating line is carried into the figure treatment with the monotonous persistence of a primitive chant. The effect is hypnotic. In others he opposes the sea with the figure upright, on the golden mean division, only partly protected by a wall or terrace. With these two simple compositional devices—repetitive horizontals and the clean plaid of the classicists—Bischoff plays an endless theme that somehow relates to the ballad.

Elizabeth M. Polley