Important Works on Paper

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Seated Figure On Bench, 1958-59 Double Sided Drawing With Pencil, Pastel And Wash 11 5/8 X 9 3/8 Inches © Courtesy of the Artist and Leslie Sacks Fine Art
Important Works on Paper

11640 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
November 14th, 2009 - December 21st, 2009

works-on-paper, impressionism, modernism, american, European


This exhibition includes works by Sam Francis, Shane Guffogg, David Hockney, Wassily Kandinsky, Minjung Kim, André Masson, Henry Moore, Robert Motherwell, Jules Pascin, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Larry Rivers, Ed Ruscha, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Andy Warhol. The exhibition is generally divided between works by European masters, from impressionism through the mid twentieth century, and American masters from then onward to the present day. The schematic of the show is similarly organized, with geographically discrete groupings installed in four areas of the gallery.

Two things are perhaps most striking about this show. Firstly, the works by Pissarro and Toulouse-Lautrec, from 1880 and 1883 respectively, clearly contain the seeds of modernism, despite being approximately 130 years old. They are completely at home bracketed in the installation by a Kandinsky drawing from 1931 and a Moore drawing from 1959. This congruity is suffused throughout the show and is a powerful counterpoint to the distinctions between periods and movements that tend to render art history as a patchwork rather than a continuum. That which differentiates the late 19th century from the mid 20th century works in this show is, with a few exceptions, the degree of abstraction. It is, in fact, within the realm of the abstract that the broad range of these works is harmonized. The formal elements within each piece resonate, thus the show can't help but harmonize collectively, its components being grounded in a naturalistic balance.

Secondly, as to overarching aspects of this show, all of the pieces are clearly completed works with a level of finish and finality that would render moot any attempt to classify them as merely preparatory sketches.  This is not simply because most are signed but because they contain well developed nuances that could not be precisely replicated in any other media or moment, nor is one left to feel a need for this. These works are complete unto themselves.

There are other themes within Important Works on Paper - subplots, so to speak. Early in his career, Ed Ruscha served as an assistant to Sam Francis; subsequently, Shane Guffogg served as assistant to Ruscha: a blueblood lineage in the history of modern and contemporary L.A. art, brewed in the basin from whence Jackson Pollock emerged after being introduced to abstraction by Frederick Schwankovsky at Manuel Arts High School where Pollock's classmate and closest friend was Phillip Guston.

New York is also represented in Important Works on Paper, which includes a beautiful collage with ink drawing by native New Yorker, Larry Rivers. A powerful black and red acrylic and collage by Robert Motherwell speaks for the New York School, and New York's adopted favorite son, Andy Warhol, is in attendance with a delectably decadent gold shoe, and strong graphite drawing of Pete Rose. For those who are not baseball fans, be it noted that Pete Rose was the overachieving bad boy of the Cincinnati Reds, to this day denied admission to the Hall of Fame for betting on baseball (albeit not on his own team). What a perfectly appropriate subject for Warhol, quite the bad boy himself.    

Not to be overlooked are two exquisite André Masson drawings from the 1920s - among the most elegant synthetic cubist drawings ever produced - one in soft color pencil that harkens back to the still life with guitar motif employed by Picasso and Braque in their earlier cubist works, the other a thinly veiled anarchist metaphor in the spirit of dada. The Massons are bracketed in the installation, and in time, by two romantic works from Picasso: a gestural ink drawing of a seated female nude from 1923, and a lyrical, classically inspired monotype of two female nudes from 1933. So, romanticism survived the cynicism of post WWI Europe, dada not withstanding.

Important Works on Paper also includes two superb pieces from the 1920s by Jules Pascin, who was as obsessed with women as was Picasso. Pascin, party boy of Montmartre, whose funeral procession drew most of the population of that storied Parisian art district, is a much overlooked master. The delicate manner in which he most frequently rendered the young women in his pictures is, in modern times, matched only by Balthus.

The European contingent is completed with one of contemporary art's reigning masters, David Hockney. The Hockney works include a blockbuster 41 x 29 inch color pencil drawing, Study for Two Vases in the Louvre, from 1973 (the print published by Petersburg Press). Complementing this view of the inner courtyard from a window at the Louvre is another color pencil drawing - a much smaller and thus intimate portrait of noted curator, Henry Geldzahler, and his friend, Yves Marie. Both of these drawings are from the 1970s when Hockney was working in a relatively academic style of drawing. His absolute yet easygoing mastery of this most fundamental of all artistic skills is clearly evident in both pieces.

Los Angeles artist Shane Guffogg also has two works in the show. In Xingu I, 2009 - a compelling 71 x 42 inch work in India ink, chalk and soft pastel - Guffogg wraps up Pollock and Rothko in skeins of blue-white light that emerge from a unified field born out of string theory: a new train of thought in theoretical physics that seeks to extend the work of Einstein. In Sea Change II from 2008 - a pattern piece in India ink, pastel and raw pigment - veils of color and light reveal Guffogg's connections to Francis and Ruscha, and overlay a filigree pattern that invokes Matisse.

Lastly, citizen of Milan and the world, Minjung Kim, born in Korea and trained in both her homeland and Italy, brings poppies, millions of poppies... or perhaps chrysanthemums, with her 2007 collage, Void in Fullness. A plethora of abstract, multicolored rosettes are shaped from rice paper with a candle flame. These singed circles of varying size and color are then collaged one upon the other to make layers of petals. Dozens upon dozens of these rosettes are scattered over a picture plane of more than 3 x 5 feet, creating a color field that keeps the eye in constant motion.

Please contact the gallery for further information on works included in this exhibition.