Raimonds Staprans: Art of Tranquility and Turbulence

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In 1947 the young Raimonds Staprans emigrated with his family from Latvia to America, and for the past half century the artist and playwright has lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area. In Raimonds Staprans: Art of Tranquility and Turbulence, Paul Karlstrom investigates the realism and abstraction in Staprans's work, focusing on the more edgy and self-revealing paintings by bringing the artist's life experience and personal psychology prominently into the equation. Karlstrom recognizes that the meaning of Staprans's work cannot be understood solely in terms of the painterly skill and aesthetic beauty that characterize the landscapes, marines, and still lifes. Neither can it be fully appreciated in the minimalist abstraction with which Staprans qualifies his realism. Rather, the key to understanding is hidden in the secret life and philosophical preoccupation that emerged in the author's interviews with the artist.

Two prominent writers provide brief essays dealing with Staprans as a "trans-Atlanticist": Latvian cultural critic Helena Demakova brings the perspective of the artist's native country to his American émigré story. American art historian Peter Selz examines realism's rich modernist potential in Staprans and other artists who have pushed realism to discover new conceptual and aesthetic truths.

Staprans is also a writer, known in Latvia mainly for his work for the stage, and excerpts from his writings provide insight into his painting.

Paul J. Karlstrom is a specialist in modern and contemporary art and culture in the United States. He recently retired as West Coast Regional Director of the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art in San Marino, California. Among his publications are On the Edge of America: California Modernist Art, 1900-1950.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780295985848
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2006
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 10.12 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 3
Tranquility and Turbulence in the Art of Raimonds Staprans 7
Notes on Realism(s) and the Painting of Raimonds Staprans 29
Latvia-California: The Transatlantic Connection of Raimonds Staprans 35
Excerpt from The Freezing (Sasalsana) 42
On Northern Europe and California, Light and Color 47
Dark, Black Secrets 49
Plates 53
Appendix Excerpts from Interview with Raimonds Staprans 119
Biographical Chronology 124
Selected Exhibitions 132
Selected Bibliography 135
Photography Credits 138
Index 139
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