David Park Canoe 1957 oil on canvas 36 1/4 x 51 1/2 inches

Richard Diebenkorn Untitled #2 1949 oil on canvas 35 3/4 x 42 7/8 inches
Elmer Bischoff Rooftops and Bay 1961 oil on canvas 67 1/2 x 59 1/4 inches
Nathan Oliveira Nude Stepping from the Carpet II 1962 oil on canvas 52 x 48 inches

Richard Diebenkorn Interior with Flowers 1961 oil on canvas 56 3/4 x 38 3/4 inches

Manuel Neri Untitled Standing Figure 1957 plaster 61 x 22 x 16 1/2 inches

Richard Diebenkorn Untitled 1949 oil on canvas 46 x 32 7/8 inches

Wayne Thiebaud Candy Counter 1963 oil on canvas mounted on panel 28 x 38 inches

David Park Figures in a Landscape 1953 oil on canvas 29 1/2 x 35 1/2 inches
Manuel Neri Untitled Standing Figure 1974 plaster, dry pigment/water, wood 67 x 22 3/4 x 14 1/2 inches
Paul Wonner Repose 1954 oil on canvas 46 x 56 inches
Elmer Bischoff Girl Getting Haircut 1962 oil on canvas 63 x 70 inches
Theophilus Brown Blue Match Box 1960 oil on masonite 8 1/2 x 12 inches
Richard Diebenkorn Berkeley #25 1954 oil on canvas 17 7/8 x 21 1/2 inches
Nathan Oliveira Adolescent by the Bed 1959 oil on canvas 60 1/4 x 60 1/8 inches
Elmer Bischoff Woman with Striped Skirt 1958 oil on canvas 57 5/8 x 46 5/8 inches

David Park Bathers on the Beach 1956 oil on canvas 56 x 60 inches

Paul Wonner Figure by the Window 1962 oil on canvas 59 3/4 x 46 3/8 inches
Richard Diebenkorn Berkeley #33 1955 oil on canvas 24 x 20 1/2 inches
Theophilus Brown Untitled 1968 acrylic on hardboard 16 1/4 x 19 inches
Paul Wonner Objects on Floor 1966 oil on canvas 48 1/2 x 67 1/2 inches
Richard Diebenkorn Seated Girl by a Window 1960 oil on canvas 35 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches
David Park Head 1958 oil on canvas 11 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches
Nathan Oliveira Seated Mime 1958 oil on canvas with mixed media 40 x 30 inches
Richard Diebenkorn Berkeley #37 1955 oil on canvas 70 x 70 inches
Theophilus Brown Two Figures on a Rock 1968 oil on canvas 42 x 40 inches
Elmer Bischoff Girl in Mirror 1960 oil on canvas 72 x 67 inches
Nathan Oliveira Standing Man with Stick #2 1959 oil on canvas 40 x 28 inches
David Park Red Bather 1958 oil on canvas 54 x 49 1/2 inches
Wayne Thiebaud Urban Square 1980 oil on canvas 36 x 48 inches
Theophilus Brown Untitled 1964 oil on masonite 9 x 12 inches
Richard Diebenkorn Berkeley #48 1955 oil on canvas 59 1/2 x 61 1/2 inches
Paul Wonner River Bathers 1961 oil on canvas 49 1/2 x 48 inches
Nathan Oliveira Walking Man #3 1960 oil on canvas 77 1/4 x 71 3/4 inches
Richard Diebenkorn Interior with Figures 1960 oil on canvas 48 x 51 inches

Nathan Oliveira Untitled 1968 acrylic and collage on paper 25 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches

Paul Wonner Jar, Glass, Narcissus 1968 oil on canvas 48 x 48 inches
Second Floor Installation
Second Floor Installation
Third Floor Installation
Third Floor Installation

Press Release

Abstract and Figurative

Highlights of Bay Area Painting

January 8 – February 28, 2009

 

John Berggruen Gallery is pleased to present Abstract and Figurative: Highlights of Bay Area Painting, a survey of historical works celebrating the iconic art of the Bay Area Figurative movement. The exhibition will occupy two floors of gallery space and will include work by artists Elmer Bischoff, Theophilus Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, Manuel Neri, Nathan Oliveira, David Park, Wayne Thiebaud, James Weeks, and Paul Wonner. Abstract and Figurative is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an introduction by art historian and Director of the Palm Springs Art Museum and former Associate Director and Chief Curator of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Steven A. Nash. Many of the works included in Abstract and Figurative are on loan from museums and private collections and have rarely been exhibited to the public. John Berggruen Gallery is proud to have this opportunity to bring these paintings together in commemoration of the creative accomplishments of such distinguished artists. Please join us for our opening reception on Thursday, January 8, 2009 between 5:30–7:30 pm.

 

Nash writes, "There is no more fabled chapter in the history of California Art than the audacious stand made by Bay Area Figurative painters against Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s." This regionalized movement away from the canon of the New York School (as championed by artists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, and critic Clement Greenberg, among others) finds its roots in 1949, when a young painter by the name of David Park "gathered up all his abstract-expressionist canvases and, in an act that has gone down in local legend, drove to the Berkeley city dump and destroyed them."[1] Disillusioned with the strict non-representational tenets of a movement that promoted the Greenbergian notion of "purity" in art towards a perpetually evolving abstraction, Park submitted Kids on Bikes (1950), a small figurative painting, to a 1951 competitive exhibition and won. Shocking as this was to the artistic community in the Bay Area at the time – Park was then considered to be one of San Francisco's most respected Abstract Expressionists – his desire to stop making "paintings" in favor of making "pictures" gained momentum and popularity, and by the mid 1950s had translated itself (even if somewhat reluctantly) into the movement now known as Bay Area Figurative.

 

In her seminal catalogue, Bay Area Figurative Art: 1950-1965, Caroline A. Jones observes "The new figurative 'pictures' created by the Bay Area artists were neither reactionary nor merely illustrational. Although clearly moving away from the subjective isolation and grandiosity of Abstract Expressionism, the new work was equally in its debt. Their mature post-abstract figurative paintings preserved a sophisticated dialogue between abstraction and representation– the image oscillating between a recognizable subject and a boldly colored, abstract arrangement of thick slabs on paint."[2] It is this complex relationship between abstraction and figuration, how each particular artist responded to these contending sensibilities, and the aesthetic relationships between these artists that this exhibition wishes to explore. As Nash writes, "We are drawn now into more of an appreciation of the expressive individuality of their work and the distinctions between their respective approaches to the figure."

 

1 Gomez, Edward M. "The San Francisco Rebellion" Time Magazine, February 5, 1990. 2 Jones, Caroline A. 1990. Bay Area Figurative Art 1950-1965, San Francisco:San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.