The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism

Overview

A free-spirited wave of creative energy swept through the San Francisco art community after World War II. Challenging accepted modes of painting, Abstract Expressionists produced highly experimental works that jolted the public out of its postwar complacency. Susan Landauer's comprehensive examination of this dynamic movement provides the first clear picture of the artists and influences that came together in San Francisco's invigorating world of Abstract Expressionism.

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Paperback (First Edition, (A Centennial book) (Published in association with the Laguna Art)
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Overview

A free-spirited wave of creative energy swept through the San Francisco art community after World War II. Challenging accepted modes of painting, Abstract Expressionists produced highly experimental works that jolted the public out of its postwar complacency. Susan Landauer's comprehensive examination of this dynamic movement provides the first clear picture of the artists and influences that came together in San Francisco's invigorating world of Abstract Expressionism.

Landauer argues that Abstract Expressionism resulted from a broad collective impulse rather than the inspiration of a small band of New York artists. Documenting the interchanges between the East and West Coasts, she cites areas of mutual influence and shows the impact of San Francisco on the New York School, including artists such as Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt. San Francisco's Beat poets, Dixieland jazz musicians, and the area's stunning vistas were essential parts of Abstract Expressionism, as were artistic and spiritual contacts with Asia.

Under Douglas MacAgy and Clyfford Still, the California School of Fine Arts became the undisputed center of vanguard abstraction on the West Coast. Artists such as Edward Corbett, Jay DeFeo, James Budd Dixon, Frank Lobdell, and Hassel Smith produced gritty, provocative images whose impact extended well beyond California. Landauer also notes the importance of Grace L. McCann Morley, director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, who opened the museum to major Abstract Expressionist figures, and Jermayne MacAgy, who brought local and international artists together.

Enlivened by oral histories, Landauer's book is a rewarding exploration of a vital period in modern art. Richly illustrated with 96 color plates, it celebrates the energy and lasting impact of a special time.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Art historian Landauer argues that Abstract Expressionism resulted from a broad collective impulse rather than the inspiration of a small band of New York artists. She documents the interchanges between the east and west coasts, citing areas of mutual influence, showing the impact of San Francisco on the New York School, and discussing the influence of artists such as Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt, San Francisco's Beat poets, Dixieland jazz musicians, the San Francisco area's stunning vistas, and artistic and spiritual contacts with Asia. Enlivened by oral histories, and abundantly illustrated with 96 color plates. The notes are extensive, and the general bibliography is followed by selected bibliographies pertaining to each artist. Paper edition (unseen), $34.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520086111
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/29/1996
  • Edition description: First Edition, (A Centennial book) (Published in association with the Laguna Art
  • Pages: 290
  • Sales rank: 1,313,632
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Landauer is an independent writer and curator living in Oakland, California. Her previous publications include Clyfford Still: The Buffalo and San Francisco Collections (1992) and, with JaBérénice Driesbach, Obata's Yosemite (1993). Dore Ashton is Professor of Art History at the Cooper Union in New York. Among her many books is A Fable of Modern Art (California, 1991).

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Introduction
1 On the Farther Shore of Abstract Expressionism
Mapping a Movement 1
On the Question of a San Francisco School 13
2 First Tremors
The Modernist Prologue 29
Douglas MacAgy and the California School of Fine Arts 35
Faculty I: Bischoff, Smith, Park, and Spohn 37
Faculty II: Varda, Corbett, and Diebenkorn 47
Clyfford Still: Background and Early Work 52
3 The Rigors of Freedom
Disdain for the Thesis 61
Consensus by Negation 64
Devices of Dissension 71
4 The Forties: Variations
Clyfford Still, 1947-50 87
Mark Rothko's Visits to San Francisco 91
Edward Corbett, 1947-50 93
Stillman, Kuhlman, Dixon, and the Sausalito Six 102
Richard Diebenkorn, 1947-50 116
5 The Fifties: Crosscurrents and Extensions
The End of a Golden Era? 123
Arrivals and Departures: Corbett, Dugmore, Briggs, McChesney, Jefferson, and Others 124
Hassel Smith, 1948-60 136
Frank Lobdell, 1947-62 141
Richard Diebenkorn, 1950-55 148
Kelly, Gechtoff, Saccaro, DeFeo, and Other Second-Generation Abstract Expressionists 152
Epilogue 168
Appendix I: Artist Biographies 177
Appendix II: Group and Joint Exhibition History, 1940-1965 195
Notes 211
General Bibliography 243
Selected Bibliographies for Individual Artists 249
Index 257
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