Important California Modernist Paintings and Sculpture:
Recent Acquisitions

March 11, 2006 – June 30, 2006

Public Reception: March 11, 2006, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

9200 West Olympic Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 273-8838, fax (310) 273-8848
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Gallery hours, Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-6pm

Spencer Jon Helfen Fine Arts is proud to present its most recent acquisitions of art from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s by many of California’s foremost Modernists.

(l.) Edward Biberman (1904-1986), Lone Cypress, 1948, signed “Biberman” lower right, oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches.
(r.) Adaline Kent (1900-1957), Untitled, 1956, initialed and dated underneath “AKH 1956”, terracotta, 35.25 x 8.5 x 8.25 inches.

Edward Biberman, the great documentarian of the new landscape of post-World War II Los Angeles, painted many iconic California images, including the stunning oil Lone Cypress, created during a 1948 stay in Monterey, California.  Also in the exhibition is Biberman’s 1947 lithographic homage to a great African American actor -- the striking Paul Robeson as Othello.

A young Knud Merrild had just arrived in New York City from his native Denmark when he painted the large, exquisite 1921 oil New York, a symbolic tribute to that city.  A precursor of his experimental style, the strong design elements and careful composition of New York would become hallmarks of the Artist’s oeuvre.  In 1923 Merrild would move to Los Angeles where he would establish his artistic legacy.

Other important Los Angeles-area Modernists included in this exhibition are: Francis de Erdely, with his circa 1950 Cubist-influenced still life Mexican Table, and his haunting circa 1945 charcoal portrait Resting Man; Karoly Fulop, the Hungarian-born sculptor and painter whose Byzantine-inspired works incorporated the rhythmic flow of the Art Deco aesthetic, with his rare circa 1930 marble sculpture Mother and Child; and Lillian Whiting, whose circa 1940 Chinatown, Los Angeles documents an early and important time in the local Chinese-American community.

In 1926, Modernism had only just taken hold in San Francisco where a young Chinese immigrant named Yun Gee was studying and developing his idiosyncratic color theory, Diamondism.  In Portrait of Otis Oldfield, painted in 1926, Gee acknowledges his mentor, Otis Oldfield, in a portrait that is both a nod to Oldfield’s color theory and a statement of Gee’s own.

At the same time, Edward Weston was being exposed to new artistic trends that would change his focus from Pictorialism to Modernism.  In his photograph Portrait of Otis Oldfield, Weston is beginning his move away from standard portraiture.  Ahead of Weston in his experimentation with Modernism is Oldfield himself, whose 1926 oil Impression of Edward Weston is an iconic image of the man who would define West Coast photographic Modernism.  Oldfield’s 1932 watercolor Pier 29, also in the exhibition, is a crisp historical record of the City by the Bay’s famous Embarcadero.

(l.) Victor Arnautoff (1896-1979), Man With Blue Tie, ca. 1935, signed “Victor Arnautoff” lower left, oil on canvas, 33 x 23 inches.
(r.) Otis Oldfield (1890-1969), Backyards, Sacramento, 1927, signed and dated “Otis Oldfield 1927” lower left, oil on canvas, 13 x 16 inches.

Other Northern California Modernists featured in this exhibition include: Victor Arnautoff, whose Man With Blue Tie is an uncompromising testament to the human cost of the Great Depression; Ralph Chessé, an artist who, while overtly denying his African American heritage, expressed it in many of his canvases of the 1940s, including Praline Woman; and Adaline Kent, whose 1956 terracotta sculpture Untitled is a tour de force, and whose experimental works of this period are rare.

Also represented in the exhibition are Dorr Bothwell, Stark Davis, Charles Keck, Walt Kuhn, whose California connections scarcely are known, Lucien Labaudt, Helen Clark Oldfield, Ralph Stackpole, the dean of early Bay Area Modernism, Frede Vidar, and others.

The Gallery specializes in California Modernism of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, and is one of the only galleries to undertake large-scale exhibitions featuring the important art and artists of the Modernist period in California.  

The Gallery is located at 9200 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 200, in Beverly Hills, at the southwest corner of Palm Drive, between Beverly Drive and Doheny.  

Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment.

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