Irvine, CA

Howard Warshaw Retrospective

University Art Gallery, University of California

The Warshaw Retrospective Exhibition is an impressive show of a large body of Warshaw’s work. It dates from the early 1940s to the present time and includes early surrealist paintings, sketches for set designs, delicate pen drawings, studies for his mural of the Odyssey and a group of recent silverpoint drawings. Many techniques are also included in the spectrum, including pen and wash, crayon, collage, pastel, mixed media as well as oil. The show is handsomely mounted and arranged in chronological order so that the viewer moves easily along with the continuing development of the artist’s unique involvements.

Warshaw, besides being a painter, is a teacher, inquirer, philosopher and at times has been accused of over-intellectualizing his efforts. The show vindicates this involvement. The assimilation of his complex relation from the past to the present shows a knowledge and mastery of both and a dedication to the continuing flow of art as he perceives it.

There are many fine paintings in the show. Spectator is a rich poetic statement of power and beauty: in it he creates a masterful play of illusion, light and reality in space. The details of cattle from his mural done for the Continental National Bank in Lincoln, Nebraska, are fine examples of Warshaw’s dynamic treatment of strong, energetic animal force, bursting from the confines of the corral and canvas. And of course the studies from his most recent mural of Homer’s Odyssey at UCSB, places Warshaw as an important muralist.

Warshaw, in dealing with the traditional problems that have beset artists through the centuries, achieves his maturity in this show.

––Harriette von Breton