San Francisco

Elmer Bischoff

John Berggruen Gallery

Elmer Bischoff’s paintings are those of a virtuoso who indulges his love of performance without egocentricity and therefore without stunts. In this, Bischoff resembles Hans Hofmann although Bischoff ’s work can be subtler, and cumulatively mysterious as Hofmann’s never was. Bischoff trusts his paint to achieve an impassioned surge when worked up into interlocking scrubbings and flickers of color. Like Hofmann at his most orchestrally romantic, he shows innumerable transubstantiating things that color can do when handled in various ways.

In this show of 17 heretofore unexhibited paintings from Bischoff’s 20-year (1952–1972) figurative period, virtually all of his favored motifs were represented: from vistas of land and water to slices of sun-shocked high-ceilinged rooms peopled with insecurely propped figures. Though color is the main event, the figurative scheme provides the synthetic

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