Charles Arnoldi: Wood
January 12 - March 30, 2008
Reception:  Saturday, January 12, 6-8pm

Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art
Pepperdine University
24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90263
General information: (310) 506-4851
Museum Contact: Michael Zakian, Director
(310) 506-7257
Group Tours Contact: Carol Kmiec, ARTSReach Coordinator and Museum Assistant
(310) 506-4766
Web site,
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 A.M. - 5 P.M.; Closed Mondays and major holidays
No admission fee

Charles Arnoldi, “Pilgrim”, 1981, acrylic and flasche on sticks, 96 x 80 x 9 inches.  
Collection of Iris Mink.

"I first became aware of Chuck Arnoldi in the early '70s…His approach to his work was very visceral, intense, physical. He became an inspiration for my work."--Frank Gehry

MALIBU -- The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University is pleased to present Charles Arnoldi: Wood, which will be on view from January 12 through March 30, 2008.

The museum, located on the Pepperdine campus at 24255 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, CA, is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed on Mondays and major holidays. There is no admission charge. For more information, call (310) 506-4851 or visit

Featuring over 25 large-scale works in wood from the 1970s and 1980s, this exhibition is the first major museum survey devoted to this seminal Los Angeles artist.

"Charles Arnoldi rose to prominence during the 1970s and 1980s, a period that corresponds to the growth of Los Angeles as a major center for contemporary art," says Michael Zakian, director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art. "His works in wood from the period--especially the Stick and Chainsaw paintings--helped define the L.A. style. I am excited to re-examine this historic body of work and present it to the public."

Born in 1946 to a blue-collar family in Dayton, OH, Arnoldi came to California soon after high school. After a short stint in construction, he studied briefly at the Art Center School of Design and then the Chouinard Art Institute before winning the Los Angeles County Museum of Art New Talent Award in 1969.

Originally a painter, he began to experiment in the early 1970s with wood. At first he lashed together thin strips of wood to create open lattice structures. Resembling Polynesian navigation maps, these primitive constructions hung on the wall as an alternative to traditional painting.

After noticing the dramatic silhouettes of charred trees left by a local wildfire, he began to use branches in his art. He admired branches for their "distinct line quality." "They feel hand-drawn," he said. "They have a certain gestural quality, a naturalness."

Arnoldi began using them in constructions, stripping them, painting them, and exploiting their natural curves and lines. These Stick Paintings vary in mood from the open and lyric to the dense and weighty, and make explicit reference to nature, an important aspect of life in California. After Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, he created a series of "logjams"--dense and aggressive accumulations of branches that emulate nature's cataclysmic power.

He embarked on another new direction in the early 1980s when he began using a chainsaw to cut, carve, and "draw" into large sheets of plywood. These Chainsaw Paintings have lines that are ripped, torn, and appear intensely expressive. They reflect both the violence inherent in American culture as well as in Arnoldi's own childhood, growing up as he did in an alcoholic family in the decaying Rust Belt.

This exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with a critical essay that examines Arnoldi's work not simply as a California phenomenon but also as part of a national trend in the 1970s towards Postminimalism, a style where artists experimented with non-art materials in highly subjective and eccentric compositions. It also looks at his use of wood and techniques of house construction as a comment on America's waning role as a leading manufacturing nation at the end of the 20th century.

Charles Arnoldi: Wood includes 25 large-scale works from 1970 to 1990. Lenders to the exhibition include close friends of the artist such as architect Frank Gehry, actor and artist Dennis Hopper, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as California collector Dallas Price and the Long Beach Museum of Art.

Charles Arnoldi has been honored with over 100 one-person exhibitions since 1971 and was included in prestigious group shows such as Documenta 5 and the 1981 Whitney Biennial. His art is found in over 30 museum collections across the nation, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Smithsonian American Art Museum.

This exhibition was curated by Michael Zakian, Ph.D., director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, and will be seen only at Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA. Works are on view at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art in the Gregg G. Juarez Gallery, West Gallery, and Ron Wilson-Designer Gallery.


Family Art Day:
Saturday, January 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Visiting the Weisman Museum:
The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and one hour prior to performances through intermission. It is closed on Mondays and major holidays. There is no admission charge. It is located on the main campus of Pepperdine University at 24255 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, CA, 90263. Telephone: (310) 506-4851; Web:

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