Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

More about Mythology

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Ridiculous repeated stereotypes can lead to embedded mythology.  Someone recently remarked that Craig Kauffman’s work, like many L.A. artists’, “was never accepted in New York.”  My response was something like, “Are you kidding me?”  Here’s a short list of the Gotham tastemakers who acquired Kauffman’s work, from just 1965 to 1969: Philip Johnson (a 1965 red and green painting on formed plastic), Frank Stella (a small 1964 formed acrylic painting), Kynaston McShine (legendary curator acquired 2 works for the collection of MoMA, 1965 and 1969), Donald Judd (owned a transparent orange formed plastic wall relief), and Jean and Howard Lipman (a 1967 acquisition for the Whitney Museum, when Lipman was on the Board of Trustees, and Jean was the editor of Art in America). Now, seriously, that would be an impressive group, even for a major New York painter! (Image at left is Philip Johnson, by photographer Arnold Newman, for Look magazine, 1967)

Still not convinced? Then, how about the exhibitions at Pace Gallery–-5 at Pace, a group show in 1965, then four solo shows for Kauffman in 1967, 1969, 1970, and 1972?  Maybe Craig’s fame would be more obvious when viewing the cover of Art in America, from 1966. At any rate, recognition is now returning in the form of  articles and market prices, which are rising rapidly. That’s one of the subjects of a recent article in Art and Auction, by Eric Bryant.  He includes a bit of commentary from another writer: “This myth has developed that it was all about car finishes and surfing,” says Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, an art critic and the author of the recent book Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s. “But East Coast artists like Donald Judd and Robert Morris were making visits to see the latest work, and the artists really were engaged with the theoretical framework of Minimalism.”

It’s also a part of the history of the Whitney Museum of American Art, that in 1987 Richard Armstrong (now Director of the Guggenheim) curated a survey of Kauffman’s work, titled Wall Reliefs from the Late 1960s.  In the catalogue essay, Armstrong noted that by the late 1960s Kauffman’s work “had reached an apogee of severe but allusive abstraction.”

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Written by Frank Lloyd

October 3, 2011 at 1:23 am

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