Bay Area Figurative Art: 1950-1965

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Overview


During the 1950s a few painters in the San Francisco Bay Area began to stage personal, dramatic defections from the prevailing style of Abstract Expressionism, creating what would come to be known as Bay Area Figurative Art. In 1949 David Park destroyed many of his nonobjective canvases and began a new style of consciously naive figuration. Soon Elmer Bischoff and Richard Diebenkorn joined Park and other painters such as Nathan Oliveira, Theophilus Brown, James Weeks, and Paul Wonner in the move away from abstraction and toward figurative subject matter. When artists such as Bruce McGaw, Manuel Neri, and Joan Brown emerged as a second generation of figurative artists, the momentum grew for a powerful new development in American painting.

The achievement of Bay Area Figurative painters and sculptors has become directly relevant to current debates regarding abstraction and representation, as well as to discourses on modernism and postmodernism. Indeed, the historical phenomenon of the movement is an important case study in the evolution of modernism in America, serving as an early example of rupture in the formalist "mainstream."

Bay Area Figurative Art 1950-1965 was written to accompany an exhibition of the same name at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Based on extensive archival research and interviews, it is the first study of the movement as a whole and is the broadest and most accurate account of the careers and interactions of ten Bay Area artists who worked in this new style.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520068421
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/13/1989
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 923,083
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author


Caroline A. Jones is a doctoral candidate in the Art Department of Stanford University with a specialization in modern and contemporary art history. She is the author of several publications, including Modern Art at Harvard (1985).
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  • Posted March 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Importance of the Bay Area Artists Continues to Grow

    American art can lay claim to many of the roots of art history changes but no group of artists has had such a lasting impact than the group now labeled the Bay Area Figurative Artists. The period of 1950 - 1965 is covered carefully in this very well produced and written book, filled with rich color images and drawings of those who comprised this inner sanctum that changed abstract expressionism to Figurative Expressionism. The members of his conclave include David Park, Theophilus Brown, Elmer Bishoff, Richard Diebenkorn, James Weeks, Paul Wonner, Nathan Oliveira, Wayne Thiebaud and their disciples Bruce McGaw, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown,
    The Importance of the Bay Area Artists Continues to Grow, March 11, 2011
    By Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews

    This review is from: Bay Area Figurative Art: 1950-1965 (Paperback)
    American art can lay claim to many of the roots of art history changes but no group of artists has had such a lasting impact than the group now labeled the Bay Area Figurative Artists. The period of 1950 - 1965 is covered carefully in this very well produced and written book, filled with rich color images and drawings of those who comprised this inner sanctum that changed abstract expressionism to Figurative Expressionism. The members of his conclave include David Park, Theophilus Brown, Elmer Bishoff, Richard Diebenkorn, James Weeks, Paul Wonner, Nathan Oliveira, Wayne Thiebaud and their disciples Bruce McGaw, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, Raimonds Staprans - a group that continues today with artists such as Christopher Brown and Ursula O'Farrell.

    The drive among these artists was to find an emptiness in nonobjective painting and instead return to the figure and the landscape, employing many of the technical strokes and approaches as the abstract expressionists, but adding a sense of the strange light that is found in the Bay Area. Both the writing by Caroline Jones and the magnificent color reproductions make this the definitive volume on this important artist group whose impact on the art of America is still being felt. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, March 11

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