Los Angeles

Drawings by Dine, Oldenburg, Talbert and Whitman

Dwan Gallery

Considering recent tendencies in advanced art, drawing, at least in the classic sense, has ceased to be of importance. Artists will, of course, use preliminary sketches as a kind of private notation but rarely are these produced for public exhibition, nor do they contain much more for the public than a satisfaction of the desire to see and possess the trivial productions of famous names. These four artists, however, among others, are producing drawings that work as finished products. Often they relate to major works but rather than being studies, they are made after the fact, or as integral parts of a series. All four artists are known for their primary involvement in constructed objects or assemblage. Dine makes painted collages with objects attached to a canvas, Oldenburg makes intimate or exaggerated sculptures of common objects, Whitman works in film and makes objects for Happenings among other pursuits, and Talbert produces small fetishistic boxes filled with Surreal and erotic objects.

Dine’s drawings relate closely to his larger works ·and some may have served as preliminary ideas, but, for the most part, they hold up individually. Most of them convey a clarity and pictorial sense that seem more re· solved than in his larger constructions. The palettes of 1962 have a beauty that places them well up in the body of his work, particularly “Two Palettes For the Beginning Of Fall, 1962.” Oldenburg shows greater variety in this selection. A group of charcoal sketches done between 1959–61 have a kind of romantic, impressionistic mood, handled with great flair and a sense of tradition. His watercolor and charcoal drawing, “Shirt On Its Side––1963,” a giant blue shirt with a girl staring at it, shifts abruptly from the style of the earlier group to a kind of cartoon representation of his own work and its environment. Also of particular interest, was a newspaper collage of 1961 “Two Figures and Marquee (WEE––),” that seems to be a transitional piece, related both to his earlier sculptures and to certain work of Dubuffet.

Ben Talbert is represented by a collection of twelve brush and ink drawings representing characters, settings and props for a recent Los Angeles production of “Ubu Roi.” Unlike usual theatrical design drawings, these are formally integrated, individually and as a group, to represent a total visual concept of the play in graphic terms that capture the mood of the period in highly effective contemporary terms. Robert Whitman’s twelve drawings are involved with food, motion picture cameras, unusual perspectives of toilets in use, and, more interesting, two semi-abstract drawings relating to the planet Saturn and to sun spots. For the most part, Whitman’s work is the least satisfying in the show. The cameras and the toilet series, except for the subject matter, are executed in a style much like typical sophisticated magazine illustration, and the food drawings appear like little more than competent student exercises. In any case, yes Aunt Martha, they can draw.

––Don Factor

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