Posts Tagged ‘Craig Kauffman artwork’
I currently have on view an early drawing by Craig Kauffman that visitors are really responding to. From 1961, this drawing is one of a series of works on paper that Kauffman produced while he was traveling in Europe – to Copenhagen, Paris and Ibiza between 1959 and 1961. In Paris, Kauffman met the abstract artists Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Motherwell, as well as Darthea Speyer, who later became his Paris dealer. The works that he developed during this period reveal his continuing interest in Abstract Expressionism, coupled with an awareness of Japanese Zen brush painting.
This piece, along with several others from the same timeframe, was included in the 2008 exhibition Craig Kauffman: A Retrospective of Drawings, at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena. Kauffman carried these drawings with him during his travels, in several large portfolios, so they required some conservation before they were ready to be shown. For this task, I hired the late Victoria Blyth Hill, retired Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Conservation Center, and longtime friend of the gallery. Her work on this project was everything I had hoped for, as she approached the pieces with sensitivity and expertise. With a “less is more” philosophy, the work was cleaned and stabilized, before being archivally framed to protect it against future damage.
Conservation is a major aspect of the Estate of Craig Kauffman’s responsibility to protect the legacy of the artist. Working with a team of selected conservators, we are trying to provide guidelines for the care and keeping of Kauffman’s work in all mediums. Given the diversity of his long career, this is a significant task, but one that is imperative if his work is to survive. The Estate of Craig Kauffman’s new website, www.craigkauffman.com, now has a conservation tab, where museums and private collectors can direct their conservation inquiries.
Sometimes I look for unifying themes within the gallery’s exhibition program. It’s obvious that we specialize in contemporary ceramics, and we clearly favor a sense of place—the West Coast of the U.S. But what’s fascinating to me is that several of the gallery’s artists have a connection to France, and to French culture.
How? Let me explain.
Adrian Saxe was influenced, even early in his career, by Sèvres porcelain. He saw examples at the Huntington, when he was in his early twenties. Saxe was attracted to the soft-paste porcelain characteristic of the factory,as well as the inventive forms, delicate painting, and skillful gilding. Then, in 1983, Saxe was selected by Georges Jeanclos to be the first resident at the Atelier Experimental de Recherche et de Création de la Manufacture National de Sèvres. Saxe returned to Sèvres in 1987 for a second residency, where he continued his explorations of the factory’s traditional techniques and materials.
Craig Kauffman made many trips to Paris. His first was right after his graduation from UCLA’s master’s program in 1956. During his six month stay, Kauffman took classes at the Alliance Française and visited museums and galleries. He returned to Paris in 1959 to 1961, while also traveling to other cities including Copenhagen and Ibiza. During this more extended visit, Kauffman met Darthea Speyer, who would later become his Paris dealer. Kauffman went back to Paris in 1973 for a solo show at Galerie Darthea Speyer, and lived in a studio in the Cité Internationale des Arts through the fall of 1975. After spending the spring of 1976 in California, he returned to France, to work in his studio and exhibit new works at Galerie Darthea Speyer.
Three years ago, Larry Bell was honored by the Carré d’Art de Nîmes with a very significant survey exhibition. Yet this is not the first time Bell’s work was shown, or collected, by the French. History shows that Larry Bell exhibited in France many times, including at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in 1967 and 1974, the Palais du Luxembourg in 1993, the Centre Pompidou in 2006, and the Galerie Daniel Templon in 2010. It’s interesting to note that Larry’s brother, a famed economist, maintains a residence in Paris.
The gallery has also shown a major French artist: Georges Jeanclos. It was an honor to exhibit the work of such a renowned international artist on two occasions. His emotional work profoundly affected visitors, as the artist’s deft handling of his terra cotta materials evoked a powerful sense of the tragedy of human experience.
Artist’s Estates are charged with the responsibility to protect the legacy, be caretakers of the artwork, and preserve the reputation of the artist. Estates, of course, come in many different sizes and forms—from the large and well-funded Warhol Foundation, to the smaller and penniless widows of the unrecognized. Reputations are placed in trust. I’ve had the sometimes sad—but necessary—task of working with family and friends of several artists after a death. There are the inevitable meetings with lawyers, accounting and record keeping, and there is a significant job of responding to the queries of museums, curators, and collectors. But in the digital age, there is another important position: the protection and presentation of the images and information online.
I’ve written about the prevalence of the internet in the art world before, and it’s something that continues to interest me. The online presence of a gallery or artist can make a big difference in how they are perceived, by the general public, students, critics, and museums. I’ve observed that the first step by many during a research project is to do a quick search on Google or Wikipedia. Unfortunately, it seems that not many people go beyond this cursory overview of a topic. That needs to change.
With that in mind, the Estate of Craig Kauffman, working with my gallery, has launched a new website: www.craigkauffman.com. It features images of artworks, a selected exhibition history, primary-source documents and a chronology to guide visitors through Kauffman’s life and work. It is our hope that this website will be a resource that helps people look beyond the mythology to see the broad scope of his career. We made use of extensive archival materials and interviews, to try—again—to set the record straight.
For the installation of Los Gigantes, I included something new – a bench! Although I don’t often place benches in the gallery, this show motivated me to include one. The aesthetic of Los Gigantes is very spare, with only ten pieces on view. The works really fill the space though, and they all benefit from prolonged looking. For example, the more time a visitor spends with a Light Knot by Larry Bell, the more they understand the ephemeral, kinetic nature of the piece. Practically weightless, the Light Knot turns and sways with the slightest breath of air. Because it is so responsive to light and environmental conditions, the piece changes from moment to moment.
I encourage people to sit down and study the pieces, rather than rushing through. From the bench installed in Los Gigantes, you will see a painting by Ed Moses, framed by two luminous wall reliefs by Craig Kauffman. The subtle, translucent colors of the Kauffman pieces beautifully complement the stained surface of Moses’ painting. Viewed together, the works illustrate the impact of shimmering, sensual color in differing media.
I know I’ve posted artists’ portraits before, but I can’t resist sharing these great photos of the artists in Los Gigantes: Larry Bell, Craig Kauffman, John Mason, Ed Moses, and Peter Voulkos. These giants of the West Coast art scene were all photographed by Jim McHugh, who was kind enough to send us these images. McHugh is a noted chronicler of contemporary West Coast artists and has published several books including California Painters: New Work, 1989 and The Art of Light and Space, 1993. More recently, his work was exhibited by Timothy Yarger Fine Art, and was included in the Getty Museum’s Pacific Standard Time initiative. For over thirty years, McHugh has created compelling portraits of artists, capturing their individuality and offering unique views into their world. His respect and enthusiasm for his subjects and their work comes through in every image.
We had our opening reception for Los Gigantes at the gallery last Saturday, January 18th, and it was a great time. As you might expect, a show featuring the work of Larry Bell, Craig Kauffman, John Mason, Ed Moses and Peter Voulkos draws a big crowd. These artists are giants within the history of West Coast art, and their work attracts writers, other artists, museum and gallery professionals, and lots of fans!
We were lucky enough to have Larry Bell, John Mason, and Ed Moses in attendance. In the week leading up to the reception, we fielded phone calls from excited visitors who wanted to know if they would have the chance to meet the artists, and I’m glad we didn’t disappoint them. The reception had the feel of a reunion, as Bell, Mason and Moses have known each other for many years, and they have a large circle of mutual friends. It was great to see so many members of the Los Angeles art world turn out to support these artists, who each have such strong histories in the city.
With a group like this, it was no surprise that visitors wanted to linger, spending time with both the artworks and the artists. It was a great opportunity to hear from the artists directly, in a relaxed atmosphere. In the end, we knew it was time to head home after a long night when Pinky, Larry Bell’s dog and constant companion, curled up and took a nap in the gallery.
Taking a look around at Los Gigantes today got me thinking about the artists and their histories with the gallery. Larry Bell, Craig Kauffman, John Mason, Ed Moses, and Peter Voulkos have all exhibited here numerous times and most of them even have a gallery publication to their name! I’m always happy to produce catalogues for artists, and to support their work with scholarship that provides important context for visitors.
Right now, we have four gallery-produced publications available, as well as one collaborative effort. These include exhibition catalogues for John Mason from 2000, Craig Kauffman from 2008, and Peter Voulkos from 2012. Of course, we also have Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman, the definitive monograph on Kauffman’s life and work. To round things out, I also contributed an essay to the catalogue for the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery’s 2012 exhibition Clay’s Tectonic Shift, which I co-curated with Mary MacNaughton and Kirk Delman.
Frank Lloyd Gallery artists have been very busy, so here’s a round-up of their latest activities. To begin, Jennifer Lee has been invited to participate in the International Ceramic Festival in Sasama, Shizuoka, Japan. During the festival, November 22 – November 24, 2013, Lee will present a slide lecture and practical demonstration. Gustavo Pérez will join her at the festival, as he is also scheduled to speak to participants. In 2014, Lee will return to Japan for a two-month artist’s residency at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park.
An important work by Craig Kauffman is now on display at the Barbican Art Centre, as part of their exhibition Pop Art Design, which opened on October 22 and will run through February 9, 2014. I was fortunate enough to preview this show during my recent trip to London. Pop Art Design investigates the “exciting exchange of ideas between the fields of design and art” during the Pop Art movement.
Peter Voulkos is currently the subject of a one-man exhibition at the Franklin Parrasch Gallery titled Peter Voulkos: Works, 1956 – 1997. On view through November 23, 2013, this show features ten ceramic artworks drawn from distinct periods within the artist’s long career.
I am also pleased to announce that the Hetjens Museum in Dusseldorf, Germany, has acquired a recent sculpture by Wouter Dam. Founded in 1909, the Hetjens Museum is home to a collection of ceramic works from all over the world, spanning 8,000 years of ceramics history. Finally, The Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico, recently announced a major gift of contemporary art by a private collector. The promised collection contains over 30 artworks by Larry Bell, including two examples of his most recent series, the “Light Knots.”
I am very proud to announce that the gallery, in collaboration with ColorNet Press, has been awarded a Certificate of Merit from the Printing Industries of America for our artist’s monograph, Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman. The Premier Print Awards are held yearly to recognize the highest quality printed pieces in over 100 categories from around the world. As our plaque notes, “The Premier Print Award goes to those firms who demonstrate a unique ability to create visual masterpieces. Chosen from thousands of entries, each represents the unique partnership between designer and printer, need and creativity, technology and craft.”
I’m glad the award emphasizes collaborative relationships because it’s so important to me to recognize the gallery’s partners in this project – it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s hard work. For the design of the book, I will always be grateful for the vision of the late Joe Molloy, of Mondo Typo, and his wife, Amita Molloy, who worked as our production manager. Additional design assistance was provided by Jim Drobka, with typography done by Diane Franco. Finally, I have to thank Nick Nejad of ColorNet Press, for his dedicated attention and expertise. I’m proud to share this award with him.
The artists in our current show, Translucence, were all active in the 1960s. Their work is linked by their shared interest in transparency, light, reflection and the awareness of visual perception. Although they are frequently united under the label of Light and Space, and strongly associated with the late 1960s and early 1970s, it’s important to note how these artists’ work has evolved.
Our current show presents historical and contemporary examples of artwork. For instance, Larry Bell’s well-known form, the glass cube, is presented alongside work from his most recent series, the “Light Knots.” Working in diverse materials, Bell achieves complex visual effects through his use of thin film deposition – resulting in objects that absorb, transmit, and reflect light, thus calling into question the nature of the physical and visual spaces they inhabit.
Sensuous color characterizes Craig Kauffman’s practice, and plastic allowed him to expand on and enhance this sensibility. Suspended from the ceiling, Kauffman’s Untitled Loop from 1969 radiates luminous color, casting reflections on the surrounding walls. His more recent wall reliefs pulse with layers of iridescent paint, applied in thin layers to achieve a glowing, atmospheric quality.
Helen Pashgian’s work, like that of many of her contemporaries, used the new possibilities offered by industrial mediums to manipulate and explore visual and physical phenomena. Her practice constitutes an ongoing investigation into the interaction between light, color, and three-dimensional form. Like her historical spheres, Pashgian’s recent pieces explore the perceptual relationship between color and structure, blurring the borders between these principles. As the viewer moves around her work, colors and shapes advance and recede within each piece, creating an effect of instability.