San Francisco

Gordon Cook

Oakland Museum; Charles Campbell Gallery

Gordon Cook died in 1985 at the age of 57. The current traveling show of his work, organized by the Oakland Museum, concentrates on his paintings, which he turned to seriously in his early 40s with some prescience that they would be accepted as more “big time” than his prints. His paintings are beautiful—many of them achingly so—but his prints are great, especially the etchings done in his mid 30s and those of the last two years of his life, when he renewed his fascination with the printing process after a nine-year hiatus. The privileges of paint are materialistic, even though paintings depend for their excitement on things happening immaterially a little in front of and and a little behind the painted surface. There are more great works on paper without paint than there are paintings in the world.

Black-and-white etching is the static medium par excellence. From the first, even in his

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