Bay Area Painters: Energy Without Grandiosity

Elmer Bischoff, Cityscape, 1965 (Yale University Art Gallery, Solomon Byron Smit
Elmer Bischoff, Cityscape, 1965 (Yale University Art Gallery, Solomon Byron Smith, B.A. 1928, Fund. © Estate of John Bischoff)

Xico Greenwald blogs about the exhibition Five West Coast Artists: Bischoff, Diebenkorn, Neri, Park, and Thiebaud at the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, on view through July 13, 2014.

Greenwald writes that the show highlights "a tight-knit group of Bay Area painters and sculptors spent the following decades making abstract and figurative artworks that contained the energy of New York School action painting without the grandiosity, creating a contribution to American art history that has yet to be fully appreciated... Explaining his turn away from Abstract Expressionism toward representation, Elmer Bischoff, in a 1977 interview for the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, said he was 'plagued' by 'tenderness, sentimentality, charm, seductiveness … lusciousness and sensuousness.' Beyond the lush brushwork in Bischoff’s two big canvases here, these paintings are spatially sophisticated. In 'Cityscape,'1965, the viewer is placed on an apartment balcony. Here the balcony railing and the overhang of the balcony above form interlocking Ls that create a sandwich of deep space and a strong scale jump from the elevated veranda to the skyline beyond."