Craig Kauffman


Bemused condescension is a nuanced mind-set. Yet it is familiar enough to the New York art world, as when, some forty-plus years ago, the cognoscenti encountered the team of young Light and Space artists who were then emerging in Los Angeles. It is not that ethereality, evanescence, and the dematerialization of color were necessarily foreign to the aspirations of East Coast painters in the 1960s—they weren’t (think Color Field, for example)—but that such refined digressions, as we spun them, were embodied as pigment on canvas, including even the paintings of a nascent Minimalist persuasion. For the LA lineup, however, that was hardly true: Consider Larry Bell’s reflective rare metals annealed to glass, John McCracken’s perfectly lacquered monochromatic slabs, James Turrell’s luminous coloristic halations, or Robert Irwin’s conjuring of untrammeled ineffability as sensation. To aggravate

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