Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

Revisting Sunshine Muse

with 2 comments

Last weekend, the best thing I read was Peter Plagens’ response to the use of his book Sunshine Muse. Plagens wrote the first edition way back in 1974, and added a preface for the 1999 second edition, when he refused to revise what he called a “period piece”. In Sunday’s “Perspective” piece for the Los Angeles Times, Plagens offers the fascinating story of his deal with editors from Praeger, as well as a substantial bit of self-criticism: “Sunshine Muse has major flaws. I was a critic, not an art historian, writing art history, so the book has too much criticism in it and not enough history, particularly concerning Latino, African Amercian and “Women’s Movement” (as it was called back then) artists.”

I’ve used his book for quotes in essays, referenced it several times in press releases, and even posted a choice quote on the wall for our current show—concerning the work in Craig Kauffman’s 1958 show of abstract paintings.  So I read Plagens’ response to the authors of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time volume with great interest, and I highly recommend reading both. I am hoping there are many more exchanges, viewpoints and publications that address the history and the influences of West Coast art. Bring ’em on!


Written by Frank Lloyd

September 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Great stuff Frank.

    Kauffman’s paintings from 1958 look,(to me),like cleaner,sharper Altoons.
    There’s a shared vocabulary of shapes.
    It’s easy to see those paintings as a snapping into focus of ideas which informed much of Kauffman’s subsequent work.

    Can you say something about their friendship?

    Cathy Zar

    September 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm

  2. Thanks for an excellent observation. Kauffman and John Altoon were friends during the late 1950s and early 1960s. They did indeed have a shared vocabulary of forms, and a loose quality of line in their biomorphic abstraction paintings. For Kauffman, Altoon’s death marked a great loss, as he was a vital part of the artistic community, and a close friend.


    September 28, 2011 at 11:41 pm

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