Ben L. Culwell

The Menil Collection

Ben L. Culwell is a Texas artist who last exhibited in the 1946 “Fourteen Americans” show at the Museum of Modern Art. This recent exhibition here in his home state, entitled “Adrenalin Hour,” consisted of a group of 45 small drawings that Culwell made in the South Pacific during World War II when he was a sailor and that have been happily recovered from oblivion. Culwell’s work was all but forgotten after he pursued a business career when no gallery picked him up—most likely because his work was an adventurous, unclassifiable hybrid: loosely Abstract Expressionist but also firmly imagistic and figural, with all the hallucinatory vigor that comes from the successful fusion of the abstract and descriptive.

These mixed-media drawings are, as Walter Hopps has written in his catalogue essay, “poetic diaristic inscriptions... made under the extremities of human endurance during the war in the

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.