Los Angeles


Pasadena Art Museum

Devoting almost its entire space in a multi-section celebration of the Fourth Biennial Print Exhibition, the museum begins by neatly surveying art history from its own permanent collection. Outstandingly powerful and well-chosen samples form the 15th through 19th century European and Japanese selections. A lesser level marks the accompanying 20th century European masters, the exception being the in-depth showing of the ever-present Blue Four.

The dubious poems of Walasse Ting in his volume 1c life, illustrated by twenty-eight European and American contemporaries provides an opportunity to mention particularly the excellent, loosely geometric efforts of Alfred Jensen and Kimber Smith from among the dozen on view.

Examples from the twin apostles of the proposed lithographic renaissance, Tamarind Lithography Workshop Inc. and Universal Limited Art Editions display the major American names, gathered about the poles of East and West Coast. The merit and liability of the lithograph is that it possesses little or no inherent character, quality, or restriction. Therefore, dumb to the infinite possibilities, most of the artists have worked directly in their own distinguishable style with crayon, brush, or wash to produce large reproducible drawings which usually have (because of maximum tonal contrast) the overbearing impact of a poster. Paul Brach proves to be one of the exceptions. His three tender impressions from The Negative Way, circle variations in limited color, call upon a close reading. Jasper Johns’ Flag II and Rauschenberg’s Shades stand out among the easy solutions of their fellows.

A preview of a boxed suite of lithographs by Sam Francis demonstrates again how fully he has exploited transparent and opaque, full intense color and value, with elements and field organizations which are each spontaneous yet individual. His is an environment under pressure, through which percolate gestural sprays and blots in active but planal tangencies. This was a happily realized project.

The juried competition included sixty individual works from printmakers of the five Pacific states. The quality is generally high, if tempered by tidiness, with an accent on younger artists, and the exhibit is blessedly (relatively) free of the awkward expressionists, mystique craftsmen, and nebulous texturalists who have tended to dominate such competitions. A list of meritorious performances, which could run much longer, might include John Coleman, John T. Conway, Tom S. Fricano, Gerald Gooch, Robert Graham, Frederick Hammersley, Elena Karina-Canavier, Nathan Oliveira, Alan Simon, Richard C. Vallejos, and Judith A. Von Euer.

Fidel A. Danieli