• Elmer Bischoff

    San Francisco Art Institute / University Art Museum, Berkeley

    I don’t think West Coast art has ever really worried about ideas of the impersonal as New York artists have. Reviewing three decades of art (roughly 1945–75) can substantiate all my hidden prejudices about the subject of painting, culture, and traditionalism. The new work looks old (especially the good stuff), harking back to the days when painting reigned. That paint, craftily laid on in appropriately pleasing arrangements, was necessary to create honest-to-goodness art, Art.

    Elmer Bischoff had two shows: new paintings at the Art Institute and ink drawings in Berkeley. I should write the whole

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  • Richard Diebenkorn

    John Berggruen Gallery

    Diebenjorn was a colleague of Bischoff’s in the heyday of West Coast ’40s–’50s art (if you think there was a heyday) and while Bischoff has retained the human figure in his work to this day, Diebenkorn was the landscape painter, even when he became an abstractionist. There’s only a short distance from the Berkeley series (on display at Berggruen) to the Ocean Park series. Now Diebenkom was probably the best painter painter (ya know, tough) around then, and this mini-retrospective is a handsome show. Large areas of vigorously painted blue (sky), green, and brown arabesques (trees, ground), the

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  • Sam Francis

    Smith-Anderson Gallery

    Sam Francis? He’s different. A very good painter but not a painter’s painter. No cross to bear. How he gets away with it year after year is something (he never gets slick). How can he move with modernist painting all the way from the West Coast (he left the center for the edges and now is back inside the arena again)?

    The new paintings (untitled) are on canvas and paper; the small ones (Mandalas) on paper have rectangular solids smack in the center, emphasizing the shape of the paper. They are simple—the best in the show. Francis continues the wide water swatches with those impossible colors

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  • “Both Kinds: Contemporary Art From Los Angeles”

    University Art Museum Berkeley

    “Both Kinds: Contemporary Art from Los Angeles.” I am will ing to say that anyonedoing art appears old-fashioned and I guess the answer to that would be, who cares? Culture is conservative. Nothing really new can be done and it’s art history’s job to prove it. This show, arranged by Peter Plagens, is old-fashioned, in the handmade down-home way, with no industrial design present. The watchwords: heterogeneous, pluralistic and catholic. No preconceived ideas, except those of individual quality. It’s a long way from the uniformity that dictated the type of art, art history and criticism we were

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