New YorkCalifornia Abstractionists
Findlay Galleries presents a survey exhibition of abstract works from the gallery’s esteemed collection of California Abstractionists.
Added to list
“After World War II, many veterans enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, using their GI Bill to further their art education. Most of these men and women were older than the average art student, more experienced, more sophisticated… As the student body of an art school, they were an exceptionally serious and vital group of people. They were concerned with the search for values on a level of maturity quite different from that of the usual student, perhaps because of their war experiences.
During this same period, in one of those peculiar conjunctions of history, a group of instructors were gathered together at the art school, under the direction of Douglas MacAgy, who was at the forefront of the development of a new abstract style of painting in America including artists such as Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt and others. The combination of these two factors, mature students and exceptional instructors, resulted in a solar flare in San Francisco’s art history. Cooperative galleries, run by the artists sprang up around town, and there was a passionate involvement of the painters in the new movement. Accurately or not, the French critics eventually named the development the “École du Pacific.” Many of the painters in San Francisco at that time are now nationally and internationally known.” – Mary Fuller, Art Forum, 1971
This exhibition includes works from Leonard Edmondson, John Grillo, Frank Lobdell, Gordon Onslow Ford, Fritz Rauh and Jack Wright, all artists who have influenced and participated in the Californian Abstract Expressionist movement in various ways.
(1916 – 2002)
“My painting is not art of rebellion, but one of discovery and sharing. I have found satisfaction in the spontaneous, often compulsive, act of drawing and painting.” – Leonard Edmondson
(1917 – 2014)
Grillo’s approach to action painting was admirable, Douglas MacAgy, Director of the San Francisco Museum of Art during the formative years of abstract expressionism, said, “Grillo was remarkably ahead of his time… [he had a] marvelous sensuous feeling for pigment and for smearing it and putting it on. He astounded everybody.”
(1921 – 2013)
Lobdell is recognized as one of the founding fathers of Abstract expressionism and was also a member of the famed ‘Sausalito six.’ His “color is his passion, strong hues urgently laid on in impasto textures or thin glazes and often tempered by vibrant blacks…” (New York times, 2002). Lobdell’s earliest mature work, from the late 1940s, is either allover gestural abstraction—often bright and colorful—or Picassoesque deconstructions and distortions of the human figure in gridlike Cubistic format.
Gordon Onslow Ford
(1912 – 2003)
Gordon Onslow Ford was a renowned abstract and surrealist painter. In 1941 Onslow Ford gave four lectures entitled “Surrealist Painting: an Adventure into the Human Consciousness,” which were attended by various young artists who would shortly become crucial figures within the Abstract Expressionist movement as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.
He settled in the San Francisco Bay area and in 1951 formed the group Dynaton, with the artists Lee Mullican and the ex- surrealist Wolfgang Paalen. In 1958 he built a home and studio in the secluded woodlands of the Bishop Pine Preserve above Inverness.
It was in these woods, he recalled, that the revelation came to him in 1951 that the basic forms of the line, circle and dot were “at the root of art”. The discovery of this basic visual language, which dominated his art for almost two decades, enabled the artist to work with the speed he deemed necessary for capturing the flux of the “inner worlds which lie beyond dreams”
Excerpts from Independent, 2003
(1920 – 2010)
Born in 1920, Fritz Rauh emigrated to the U.S. in 1954 and showed at the DeYoung in 1956 at his first U.S. exhibition. His experiences in WWII and six years spent as a Russian Prisoner of War helped shape his later life and career.
In May 1968, San Francisco Chronicle writer Alfred Frankenstein cited Rauh as one of the most original painters in the Bay region: “[Painting] hundreds, perhaps thousands, of small, writhing connecting shapes on his canvas imitating nature and leading to a certain mysticism, the effect is ‘Magnificent'”.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)