reviews

  • Richard Diebenkorn

    Irving Blum Gallery

    I am prejudiced in favor of painting because it is the worst thing to do nowadays, limited and overburdened by its own rich, codified language, and because it is rarely done well. A painter like Richard Diebenkorn is especially vulnerable because he’s so Beaux-arts: brushy surfaces, charcoal lines showing through fleshy, “natural” colors indigenous to oil paint, and the “rightness” of his configurations. But Diebenkorn’s show at Irving Blum; albeit nostalgic and thin in spots, is quite good, compare it to whatever you wish. The look of the whole thing is nice: quiet, airy, serene paintings in

    Read more
  • Jack Bush

    Nicholas Wilder Gallery

    I’ve gotten more interested in the Canadian color painter Jack Bush since I found out he’s a middle-aged guy, no wan “lyrical abstractionist” emitting oh-goodies at every gift of acrylic paint, and this may be clouding (or overlighting) my judgment. In this pick-up show at Nick Wilder’s, including wildly different paintings, in different sizes, from different sources, there’s a transition from his earlier, luscious primary-and-candy color bars to a more capricious “shapy” (shapes surrounded by a single color) format, suggestive of both Matisse and Ray Parker; the color now “clashes” instead of

    Read more
  • Ron Cooper

    Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA)

    Ron Cooper, who has an exhibition at the Pasadena Museum, is a class “younger artist” whose name carries, in art circles, allusions of slickness and daring, austerity and glamour. I have seen a couple of Coopers—those clear, barely figurated plastic shallow boxes—and when he is “on” with the light and the bubbles, it’s as good as any more traditional art that I know of. The general run of his things, however, is a little hard to figure, except for the fascination with technical “problems” (but then, why does he choose not to solve his rough edges?). There are two groups in the current show; the

    Read more
  • John McCracken

    Douglas Gallery (Vancouver, B.C.)

    The John McCracken exhibition at Douglas Gallery in Vancouver, B.C., is as near-perfect a show as you’d want; it may not be as spectacular and moving as other Ace exhibitions (Andre, Sonnier), but it’s airtight, a kind of collaboration between artist and gallery which combines the best of the show which is “done” on commission and the integrity of works done “regardless” in the studio and then shipped out. The space is reasonably large, and the eight planks, a number critical to McCracken in this series, just fit the place. The pieces are new planks, still leaning, hollow, thick boards, only

    Read more
  • Ben Sakoguchi

    Brand Library Art Center

    The old Brand Mansion up in Glendale has been augmented by a city-built art center gallery which, although early Forest Lawn in style, is a nice exhibition space; Robert Lewis Smith is the director and he’s elected a calendar of one and two-man shows of younger artists in the area (a more substantial decision than it may seem, since Brand Library has a tailor-made aura and locale for first-annual-print and art association shows). The first is Ben Sakoguchi, a printmaker with a reputation for technical inventiveness (what printmaker isn’t?) and a complex imagery of “social parody and fantastic

    Read more
  • Milton Avery

    U.C. Irvine

    This small exhibition of the late paintings of Milton Avery has been organized by John Coplans for the University of California, Irvine. Of the twenty-two works in the exhibition most were executed in the years 1958–1960 (Avery died in 1965).

    One’s first impression of the exhibition is its unpretentiousness. By contemporary standards the paintings are small and profoundly simple. Almost clumsy at times, Avery’s paintings are always “something,” a kernel of subject matter which is always available in even the most abstract works. In Avery’s earlier paintings there were sometimes clashes between

    Read more
  • Peter Plagens

    Dawson Aircraft

    Peter Plagens, well known to the readers of these pages, exhibited four large paintings in a loft called “Dawson Aircraft” in downtown Pasadena. Plagens, who for some time has been working with large sheets of paper (including roadmaps) pasted together and then painted, has in this exhibition turned (or perhaps returned) to a classical format; large horizontal canvases, five feet high by twelve feet long. The four works are formal and direct, very much in the high road of American non-representation. Large flat geometric areas of color are interspersed with smaller portions of intense painterly

    Read more