San Francisco

Jean Varda

Mulberry Union, University of California Medical Center

Varda has found a handsome new building on Parnassus Street with a generous space for hanging pictures opposite a panoramic window on the park and city. The museums were too much engrossed in the latest topical vogues or in sifting and re-evaluating the past, so he hung his vivacious and decorative collages there, and invited his friends and enthusiasts to join him in opening the show. A distinguished, charming and decorative crowd attended that soiree. We are assured that this is a retrospective, but these all look bright and new; moreover, the painted paper collages which preceded the opulent brocade collages are not here, nor are examples of the mirror mosaic frames. But he informed everyone years ago that whenever collages were left after an exhibition, he refused to take them back to the studio where he might be tempted to perfect them, and distributed them instead to pretty girls.

This collection of collages celebrates joy, beauty, love, wit and eternal youth. He has compounded glittering cities of elegant fabrics and exotic papers, adding paint occasionally when the weavers have not invented precious enough stuff. Here are dancing girls, and shepherdesses, fishermen and cavaliers, the familiars of masque and myth in merry consort. The colors which it has now become popular to examine in almost pedantic demonstration paintings, have been the subject of constant experimentation in Varda’s personal spectrum for years.

These pictures are rumored to be magical: if hung in a room they are supposed to inspire geniality and affection. Women are allegedly peculiarly susceptible to their influence, and since they are less expensive than divorce or psychoanalysis, they are recommended as antidotes to anxiety and frustration. Ardent husbands and lovers should not deprive themselves and their mates further of the pleasures of these pictures.

Knute Stiles