Los Angeles

“Artists’ Artists”

Lytton Center

“Artists’ Artists” at the Lytton Center of the Visual Arts is an exhibition of samplings from the collections of twenty local artists. The idea isn’t a bad one, but in the last analysis one doesn’t learn very much about the artist-owner through his choice of acquisitions. For example, the fact that Kenneth Price happens to possess works by Altoon, Bengston and Ed Moses is hardly unexpected; neither does it indicate anything surprising about his sensibility. To exhibit a Diebenkorn and a Lebrun from William Brice’s collection seems almost too obvious to be true—one would prefer rather to be disabused of than confirmed in his suspicion that Brice half-consciously chooses a path between the two.

Ultimately the interest of the exhibition lies in individual works. Among the finest are Sam Francis’s 1966 painting, owned by the artist; Altoon’s untitled drawing of 1961 and Ed Moses’s Silverwood’s Brisk Breeze of 1963 (both Price’s); Diebenkorn’s untitled black and white lithograph depicting a reclining female nude (1961), owned by Paul Wonner. The Francis is a fairly large oil painting on paper. Slashes of red, dark red, blue and green paint are applied around the edges to frame an uneven white shape, with a very few well-placed drips and splashes.

Ed Moses’s work looks like a study or model for a larger composition: it is a white paper relief with drawn linear patterns in yellow, orange and chartreuse. The cut-out shapes are complex and crisp, like vegetation. It is an extraordinarily affecting and unusual work.

The early small works of Price, Bengston and Kienholz are as absorbing for historical reasons as for their esthetic merit; the best of these is Price’s drawing entitled Green Egg. The two Kienholzes, Tick in a Feather Bed of 1956 (a collage owned by Connor Everts) and a 1956 untitled watercolor belonging to James Strombotne, are respectable works, though clearly experimental. Bengston’s gouache, Silvana, of 1959 is a rather amusing (minor) example of his early approach to emblematic form: it depicts a heart laid over a cruciform.

An Abstract Expressionist oil by James Jarvaise entitled #12 Hudson River School (from the collection of George Baker) stands up favorably beside a number of lesser works. Another basically Abstract Expressionist work, in watercolor and crayon by Noriko Yamamoto (1958) is equally if not more appealing.

The selection of works is diverse in every sense: there are Gorkys owned by Hans Burkhardt; several Goyas and a Tiepolo etching owned by Connor Everts and John Paul Jones; Motherwell, Frankenthaler, Klee, Rivera, Tan-guy, Calder and Miró are represented as well as Emerson Woelffer, James McGarrell and Clinton Adams. There is a Stella drawing and works by Fletcher Benton, Bruce Nauman, Fred Martin and Wayne Thiebaud. Few of them, however, are shown to much advantage.

Jane Livingston