Los Angeles

Critic's Choice

Long Beach Museum of Art

Just as critics evaluate works of art with an intellectually focused, calculating eye, so do they prefer works created by artists with a similar bent, or so it appears from the very cerebral paintings chosen by the three critics, Fidel Danieli, Kurt von Meier, and William Wilson, whose selections comprise this show. It is a good show. The paintings are almost without exception first-rate. But they are decidedly slanted in approach toward the formal rather than the free; toward the rational rather than the emotional. Most are flat, hard-edged, and if not strictly abstract-classicist, then present optical schemes or appercipient satire.

Danieli’s selections are the broadest in scope, yet maintain a definite consistency in taste. He includes the more esoteric creations of John Altoon and Jack Stuck; the looser, bombastic expressionism of Emerson Woelffer; as well as the planar, compartmentalized, semi-geometry of James DeFrance, Richard Mathews and others. Von Meier, in an obvious attempt at comprehensiveness, has chosen a couple of very weak, insignificant figurative works to augment an otherwise excel lent, well-conceived group of hard-edge selections. Canvases by Guy Williams and Allan D’Arcangelo are especially notable. Wilson’s choices are the most limited, the most unemotional, the most lacking in human warmth, despite unquestionable technical virtuosity. Donald Lagerberg’s “Alternating Denials and Affirmations of Picture Plane,” a diagonally planed Mona Lisa with plane destroyed by abstract super-intellectual concern. Even Tom Holland’s rather surreal coalescences have been restricted to a rigid planar format with deliberate negative-positive interplay.

Charlene Steen