Los Angeles

Robert William Wendell

Orlando Galleria

Three years of concentration upon 19th-century memorabilia culminates in “The Innocents,” Civil War themes adapted from photographs and period illustrations. In oils, drawings, lithographs, and etchings, the labyrinthine problems of source-versus-transformation are explored with varying degrees of success. Certainly the period is accurately captured.

The source material is so inherently strong in remarkable imagery—taken either as arresting contrasts of black and white, or so poignantly tragic or ironic as subject matter, or of such popularized historic interest—that one comes to admire Wendell’s sheer persistence in maintaining a tense dialogue between psychological involvement and esthetic distance. The oils depart to a loose impasto and while the colors are similarly direct and inventive, they are perhaps inappropriate. The clear-contour and molded line drawings, with their addition of

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