San Francisco

Diane Sloan

William Sawyer Gallery

At the William Sawyer Gallery we have had the first one-woman show of Diane Sloan, who presented a group of horrific paintings Sawyer Gallery and drawings she calls the Trophy Series. Her subjects are muscular men in the poses one sees in bodybuilding magazines. By calling these men trophies and by certain formal devices, Sloan asks us to see them as objects of sympathy. Her musclemen are not long-haired innocents whom we must consider beautiful on pain of being taken for Spiro Agnew; they are examples of proletarian beauty taken from an earlier America that still exists, although its citizens do not frequent art galleries and some of them have beaten peace demonstrators.

In these paintings they seem deformed and exploited. They are made grotesque by their facial expressions, by the fantastic colors in which they are painted—lavender or green or blue—and also by subtle distortions of modeling. Sloan appears to distrust convexity; the bulginess of these men suggests disease rather than esthetically guided growth, which is what body-building ought to be.

She produces Ivan Albright responses with beautiful rather than ugly people. There were three partly abstracted studies of musculature in addition to the full-figure studies. Like the paintings of whole men, these are not formal exercises on the subject of representing three-dimensional objects in two dimensions; they comment on a particular segment of humanity, and on the rest of us.

Jerome Tarshis