Los Angeles

Peter Krasnow

Scripps College

Krasnow, 74 years old and still hard at work, is justly honored in this, his second encompassing retrospective in nine years. The brief commentaries which have dealt with him lead to the belief that he is a recluse redeeming himself through his art. Certainly here is honesty, sincerity, dedication, and enviable productivity—only the purest of motives and ideals. At best his work is individual and inimitable, but as with all such figures there are few clues with which to approach a dis­cussion; he has worked in isolation for 30 years. Curiously, perhaps typically, Krasnow’s work recalls that of major figures or widespread general tenden­cies, but always at such a distance that it ends by being entirely his own. The work breaks roughly into divisions of decades, with little bridging con­sistency (the omission of titles and dates for half the show and the cata­log is a real hindrance in this task).

First, small early landscapes in a heavily romantic realism; social scene observations; a Portrait of Olaf with Munchish overtones. A break occurs at 1925 and demonstrates a working knowledge of that period’s portraiture stylizations. The ’30s are entirely taken up by sculpture in which forms are barely released from trunk and branch sections. The ’40s are repre­sented by geometric ink drawings and totem-like sculptures of vertical puzzle parts called “demountables.” The paintings from 1953 to the present are brilliantly hued, decorative complica­tions. Slightly reminiscent of Kandin­sky, a gridded or geometric plan is buried beneath diagonals and small intricately inventive calligraphic units. There is the suggestion of an airplane view into a swirling abyss. Inimitable—yes; there are few who could wrestle with serene compulsion in isolation.

––Fidel A. Danieli