Posts Tagged ‘Craig Kauffman’
I’m often asked by visitors for recommendations to local gallery and museum shows. Although it hasn’t opened yet, I’m betting that the upcoming Norton Simon Museum exhibition, Beyond Brancusi: The Space of Sculpture, is going to be one to remember. Opening April 26th, the show will investigate how Constantin Brancusi influenced some of the great sculptors of the twentieth century through his innovative use of space and material.
I’ve always felt that the Norton Simon is a great local museum with an outstanding permanent collection, which they are drawing on exclusively for this show. Excitingly, they will be including two important works by gallery artists that were not previously on view at the museum. Larry Bell and Craig Kauffman will both have major pieces on display in the show, which will also include artists such as Henry Moore, Donald Judd, and Robert Irwin, among many other artists of note.
The Larry Bell artwork that is featured in Beyond Brancusi is a 40 x 40 x 40 inch Untitled cube from 1969. As one of the largest cubes ever fabricated by the artist, this work is certainly deserving of more attention and I look forward to seeing how it will be installed. Craig Kauffman will be represented in the exhibition by an Untitled Loop, also from 1969. Constructed of a draped sheet of acrylic plastic and spray painted in contrasting blue and red, the work will cast reflections of colored light on its surrounding walls.
I’m really looking forward to the opening of this show, which was organized by Norton Simon Associate Curator Leah Lehmbeck. It’s going to be a great opportunity to see works that are rarely on view, from the permanent collection of one of my favorite museums.
In light of the upcoming Getty-sponsored series, Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A., I thought it would be a good time to talk about some of the ways art and architecture intersect. It’s not uncommon for artists to have interest in architecture and design, and our gallery artists are no exception. For example, Craig Kauffman had deep roots in architecture, maintaining a lifelong interest in the field. Coming of age in post-war Southern California, Kauffman had some early exposure to the kind of modern architecture that would go on to characterize the region. His first significant personal contact came in 1949, while he was still in high school. Anna Victoria Dahlstrom, a friend of his sister Wilhelmina, lived in a newly designed house by John Lautner in Pasadena. The Dahlstrom residence featured curving walls, exposed beams and an extensive use of glass, all of which made a great impression on the young Kauffman.
Enrolling in the USC School of Architecture in the fall of 1950, Craig Kauffman even wrote a paper on the architecture of Lautner, with whom he felt an affinity. Although he left USC after his first year to study art at UCLA, Kauffman carried his architectural interests with him throughout the rest of his career.
In the early 1970s, Kauffman made the significant decision to leave the medium of painting on plastic, for which he was well-known, and begin a new body of work. The constructed paintings of 1973 – 1976, currently on display at the gallery, illustrate this new direction and have an undeniably architectural presence. Framed out in jelutong wood, Kauffman has made the physical supports the subject of these paintings. In an interview in 1977 with Michael Auping, referring to these works, Kauffman stated that “the structure is the image, the beginnings of the image.”
Kauffman’s decision to reveal the internal architecture of a painting, and focus on it, is akin to an architect’s use of exposed beams in a residence. Rather than conceal the means by which these works were constructed, Kauffman highlighted their physical structures. He also allowed for some neutral areas between the strips of jelutong, which function as windows through the works to the wall where they are hung. Many of the forms he used in this series are drawn from his architectural vocabulary, and some explicitly relate to his earlier architectural studies, like this Concert Hall Workshop from 1954 (seen above). They also refer to the type of vernacular architecture that attracted Kauffman, including the shacks on the beach he saw during his visits to Baja.
It’s always so interesting to me the way art historical threads can weave together, revealing a complex network of connections between artists, curators, dealers, and patrons. Following these threads can take you deep into the history of an artist and his work, and show you details you might have overlooked. For example, I’ve recently been looking into the time Craig Kauffman spent in Paris in the 1970s, and have discovered some interesting things. Kauffman exhibited new work at the Galerie Darthea Speyer in 1973 and 1976 in a space in Saint-Germain-des-Prés designed by Darthea Speyer’s brother, A. James Speyer.
An architect who studied under Mies van der Rohe in the 1930s, A. James Speyer became the Curator of Twentieth Century Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1961, and remained there until his death in 1986. It was under his tenure as senior curator that the Art Institute of Chicago acquired their two outstanding works by Craig Kauffman. The first work, a 1969 Loop titled Le Mur s’en Va I, was bought outright in 1970 through the Twentieth-Century Purchase Fund. The second piece, an Untitled bubble from 1968 was donated to the museum in 1979 by Baxter Travenol Laboratories.
The title of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Loop is important, because Le Mur s’en va (The Wall Goes Away) refers to Craig Kauffman’s original name for the Loop series. These works, suspended several inches in front of the wall, create an unusual visual ambiguity. The fields of luminous color compete with their own shadows, tinted images of the works cast in reverse on the walls. The works, and the walls, seem to dematerialize in the face of this optical uncertainty.
Kauffman made a compelling statement about his works’ relationship with the wall for his 1970 survey show at the Pasadena Art Museum. He’s referring specifically to works that cast colored reflections, but I think it reveals something fundamental about his beliefs about painting, and even hints at the direction he eventually moved in during the 1970s. I’ve published this before, but feel it’s worth repeating:
“what is a wall? it is always something for bumping one’s head against. the real wall, of whatever material, be it brick, studs sixteen inches on center, cement, adobe, flat or curved, is something to reckoned with. it is also an idea which separates us from each other. walls divide worlds. whether of bamboo or iron, walls are our creations. even the invisible walls that surround each of us denote our space, our identity. “c’est une chose mystérieuse la mur.” thing of mind or reality? crazy jane said, “what a terrible thing for a young girl to be a wall.” it is terrible to be any inanimate object but to become a wall is perhaps the worst. to walk into a wall and never come out is very possible. it is as if the wall calls to us to come in and stay in its cold interior. destroy the wall with color à la léger? cover the wall with paintings? make protrusions from it, poke holes in it? perhaps we should play with walls, with illusions, shadows, in order to render them passable to our substance. to walk through a wall is not just for houdini. perhaps we can all enter and come out safely.”
One of the most gratifying aspects of my work at the gallery is seeing our artists’ works included in museum exhibitions and collections. Whether the pieces are on display for a temporary show or are being added to the permanent collection, it’s great to see artists get the recognition they deserve. I’m also interested in the ways curators perceive and present works that are familiar to me – often shedding new light on their significance or illuminating connections with other artists.
Right now, Canton Collection by Richard Shaw is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as part of their exhibition “New Blue and White.” Referring to the tradition of blue and white porcelain, a practice with its roots in the Islamic world as well as Asia, Europe, and the Americas, the show explores how contemporary artists draw inspiration from this rich history. A signature trompe-l’oeil work, Canton Collection is a great example of appropriating historical practices for contemporary purposes. Shaw hand-painted original designs in the style of Chinese blue and white porcelain on the vessels he fabricated for this piece, but they can’t be used for their traditional purposes. Permanently attached to each other, the vessels allude to functionality but ultimately deny it.
Another gallery artist on display at a major museum is Craig Kauffman at the Museum of Modern Art. With several works in their permanent collection, Kauffman’s 1968 Untitled bubble has a prominent position in MoMA’s fourth floor gallery. Acquired for the museum by legendary curator Kynaston McShine, Untitled was first exhibited in the 1969 show “Five Recent Acquisitions,” alongside works by Larry Bell, Ron Davis, Robert Irwin and John McCracken. This ground breaking show was re-staged by P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in 2010 as part of their large-scale “1969” exhibition, which sought to explore the art of this tumultuous period. Back home at MoMA, Untitled really makes a statement about the early critical response to Craig Kauffman’s work.
Larry Bell also has great representation in museum collections across the country. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has on display a 1964 Untitled cube, bequeathed to the museum in 1981 after the death of Joseph Hirshhorn. Bell has an installation on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as well. Made in 1987-1988, this ten foot high room installation can be seen on the third floor of the east wing, where its reflective properties play with visitors’ visual perceptions. A large-scale installation was recently included in the PST show “Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface,” held at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in late 2011.
Publications are an important part of what we do at the gallery – they provide us with another way to educate the public about the arts. I’ve written a lot about Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman, our recent monograph on the life and work of Craig Kauffman, but that’s far from the only book we have available to visitors. In addition to books and catalogs produced by the gallery, we also offer selected museum publications. I try to make a point of displaying a variety of books that relate to our current exhibition or connect with what’s going on with the artists that we represent.
From the beginning (our first gallery publication was a 1999 catalogue for Roseline Delise), my intent was to use the talent and resources at hand. The late Joe Molloy, a superb graphic designer and legendary typographer, designed most of our publications. His eye for composition, alignment, and legibility was always present, as the catalogues were designed to extend our graphic identity as well as present the artworks. I’ve also employed recognized authors to write the essays, including Kristine McKenna and Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. Another feature of the gallery publications has been the excellent photography of Anthony Cuñha and Alan Shaffer.
Right now, we have a selection of books related to the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative, with exhibition catalogs including Clay’s Tectonic Shift at Scripps College, Phenomenal at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, and our own Peter Voulkos in L.A.: Time Capsule. Other publications feature the work of artists we currently have on display at the gallery, such as Richard Shaw and Peter Shire. To see a more complete list of the books we offer, including our online publications, follow this link to the publications page of the Frank Lloyd Gallery website:
Those who follow my blog might remember my love of landscape photos. It’s something that I share with Jennifer Lee, our Scottish ceramist who lives in London. Jennifer sent a wondrous picture of the Scottish sky, with a stark silhouette of a tree—a reminder of winter. It’s a picture of the year’s passage.
2012 was filled with accomplishment for the gallery. It’s also been a year of amazing statistics for the blog. As I’ve been noting lately, the gallery has a truly international presence, a fact borne out by the global reach of the blog. In the past year, the blog has been viewed in 114 countries! People seem to be reading quite of few of the 163 blog posts.
The world-wide visitors came searching, mostly for Peter Voulkos, Craig Kauffman, Larry Bell, Gustavo Pérez, and Richard Neutra. While that might seem eclectic, it represents the scope of the gallery and the blog: a concentration of interest in the major artists that emerged on the West Coast during the post-WWII era, and a complementary interest in international ceramics as well as architecture. The posts that were viewed the most times in 2012:
I’m looking forward to the New Year, and want to thank everyone for reading!
Inspired by the Getty’s holiday card – a video narrated by James Cuno outlining the Getty’s accomplishments of 2012 – I decided to take a look at the happenings of the past year here at the gallery.
In January the gallery opened Peter Voulkos in L.A.: Time Capsule, a show that critic Peter Frank hailed as “…the kind of show Pacific Standard Time has been all too short of: an intimate look at the taste and thinking and working methods of an influential figure. Everything in the show, drawn from the artist’s daughter’s collection, was small in scale and dated from the later 1950s…” in the Huffington Post.
Also early in the year, Clay’s Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price, Peter Voulkos, 1956—1968 debuted at Scripps College. I contributed to this major Getty-sponsored exhibition by serving as co-curator and lead essayist for the show, which was singled out by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp on Artnet as “…something of a model for what PST has accomplished, putting into relief the important contributions made by California-based ceramicists during the ‘50s and ‘60s.” By year’s end, Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight recognized the show in his “Best of 2012” list of art museum exhibitions, writing that: “Together, ‘Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California, 1945-1975’ … and ‘Clay’s Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price and Peter Voulkos, 1956-1968’ … made for the most thorough telling of the tale of a distinctive revolution in postwar art. One laid out the rich panoply of modern ceramic conventions, the other cheerfully smashed them.”
Drawing on Japan’s significant history with ceramics, the gallery presented Sugimoto Sadamitsu’s work in February. Sugimoto-sensei is regarded as the greatest living master of the Iga and Shigaraki styles, and his work was highlighted in a 1989 exhibition that celebrated the 400th anniversary of the death of Sen no Rikyu, the legendary early master of the Tea Ceremony. Sugimoto-sensei’s work represented Shigaraki and Iga masterpieces of the Momoyama period for use in the movie made in that year titled Rikyu, a well-received treatment of the life of this master of the Tea Ceremony. Our show was the first appearance of Sugimoto-sensei’s work in the western United States.
We also brought an unprecedented show of paintings from the late 1980s by Craig Kauffman to the L.A. audience in April. Never exhibited together in the artist’s lifetime, these paintings showed Kauffman’s interest in unorthodox application of paint and his love of the physicality of painting, accompanied by his brilliant color sense. Kauffman considered the 1989 works, which became known as the Numbers, to be a continuation of his use of calligraphic line, and an integration of sensuous color with architectural form. It was a memorable show.
This summer we mounted Jennifer Lee’s fourth solo show in Los Angeles. Jennifer Lee’s pottery is carefully colored with oxides incorporated into the stoneware body of the vessels, so that the interiors and exteriors work together. Referring to her unique pigments, Sir David Attenborough noted: “Because she does not use glaze, her subtle colours and misty shades come not from a veil draped over the pot but from within its very substance, as in the face of a cliff.” The quiet elegance of her pots never fails to make an impact on viewers. Indeed, Leah Ollman of the Los Angeles Times wrote in August that, “For all the calm they invoke, the pieces are charged with the motion of the swirls that encircle them…Their implicit movement suggests the shy whirl of demure dervishes.”
In the fall, the LACMA retrospective of the late Ken Price was a landmark exhibit for the artist. In every way, from the innovative design of the exhibition to the superb publication, the tribute to Ken Price signaled the significance of ceramic sculpture in the development of contemporary art in Los Angeles. In a related exhibit, the gallery presented a show of small works, which was described by David Pagel of the Los Angeles Times as a “dazzling solo show at Frank Lloyd Gallery.”
November brought the release of the gallery’s major monograph on Craig Kauffman, entitled Sensual Mechanical. Written by biographer Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, the publication was praised by Christopher Knight in the Los Angeles Times as “…a gorgeously illustrated and highly informative monograph published by Frank Lloyd Gallery, which represents the artist’s estate. Hunter Drohojowska-Philp’s 2011 book ‘Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s’ sketched the city’s first flush of artistic maturity. Here she chronicles for the first time and in illuminating depth Kauffman’s life and the complete evolution of his luminous art.”
I’ve written about the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s exhibition Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface before, but I recently stumbled upon a couple of videos that reminded me of the beauty of the show. MCASD has produced five beautifully shot and insightfully narrated videos that document some of the challenges and successes of their 2012 exhibition. Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, Craig Kauffman and De Wain Valentine are all highlighted in these videos, which give viewers a chance to relive Phenomenal.
Curator Robin Clark and research assistant Christie Mitchell provide illuminating commentary, on the works as well as the kinds of practical decisions that needed to be made. The discussion of natural versus artificial lighting is particularly interesting, as many of the artworks are inherently light-responsive.
I especially like the video that pairs Robert Irwin with Craig Kauffman, as the artists were friends and colleagues who enjoyed an exchange of ideas. The Larry Bell video explains the delicate process of setting up his five-paneled installation from 1970. It’s great to hear Larry talk about the experience of installing an older work, and to see the pleasure he still takes in the piece.
If you haven’t seen all of the videos produced by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego for Phenomenal, I encourage you to take a look at the following link: http://www.mcasd.org/exhibitions/phenomenal-california-light-space-surface-0. Just click “Media” to find the available videos.
Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman
Copyright © Frank Lloyd Gallery, Inc.
Author: Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
Editor: Jana Martin
Design: Joe Molloy, Mondo Typo, Inc.
Additional Design: Jim Drobka
Typography: Diane Franco
Production Manager: Amita Molloy
Printed and bound by Colornet Press, Los Angeles
Published in Santa Monica, California, United States
ISBN 10: 0-9851709-0-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-9851709-0-5
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012944950
After two years of hard work and the efforts of a dedicated team, I am happy to announce that Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman will be completed, and available for purchase, near the end of October!
This 212 page monograph on the life and work of Craig Kauffman was written by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, the author of the recently published book Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s as well as of Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe, and Modernism Rediscovered: The Architectural Photography of Julius Shulman. Drohojowska-Philp has written catalog essays on the work of Kauffman and other contemporary artists such as Robert Graham, Alexis Smith, and John Baldessari. She contributes to Art News and the Los Angeles Times, and is a weekly art critic for KCRW radio in Santa Monica, California.
In Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman, Drohojowska-Philp traces the development of Kauffman’s luminous paintings, which evolved out of architectural rigor and unabashed sensuality. Both traits characterize the extraordinary art and, to some extent, the life of Kauffman. While challenging the accepted norms of art made after the Second World War, Kauffman retained an allegiance to the traditions of Modernism. A sophisticated and self-consciously cultured man, he harnessed his various, and often contradictory, impulses to achieve an unparalleled body of work. Although Kauffman is one of the most significant figures to emerge from the lively art scene that arose in the 1960s in Los Angeles, Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman will be the first comprehensive publication of his work.