Franklin Parrasch Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of select works from the mid to late 1960’s by Los Angeles-born artist Craig Kauffman. This exhibition of six works provides a window into the developing concepts and discoveries Kauffman made within this intriguing and productive five-year period.
Craig Kauffman began his career in the mid-1950’s as an abstract painter exhibiting in Los Angeles, first at Felix Landau Gallery, then at Ferus Gallery throughout its nine-year history. Kauffman’s early work explored figure/ground relationships as defined by color, saturation and image density. By the mid 1960’s Kauffman became intrigued by commercial plastic signage in the Los Angeles area. In particular, a vacuum-formed plastic sign in which figurative elements were rendered in high, vibrantly colored relief from the background plane, prompted him to investigate this commercially-derived process.
Kauffman’s initial forays with industrially produced plastics resulted in a series of flat, rectangular planes embossed with convex linear, somewhat phallic imagery, the versos of which were painted in vibrantly contrasting colors. These works, while pioneering in their execution, retained many of the aesthetic gestures addressed in his previous painting and drawings.
It was not until his next series of mold-formed plastic works, euphemistically referred to as “Washboards,” that Kauffman abandoned the identifiable centralized image and embraced the ambiguous depth of field inherently produced by this industrially colored medium. These undulating rectangular reliefs create a funhouse mirror-like effect with color and light.
The convex reliefs from the “Washboard” series established a basis from which later experimentations with vacuum-formed plastic led to a series of horizontal ellipses Kauffman called “Bubbles.” Merging qualities of pigment, plastic, and light, the “Bubbles” successfully produced a range of formal and spatial arrangements that furthered this artist’s ongoing investigations of perception. In these works (produced from 1967-1968) Kauffman ceased all application of exterior pigmentation, as well as any iconic lines or gestural imagery. Using an industrial sprayer, Kauffman painted the interiors of these lozenge-shaped forms with specialized enamel commercially known as “Morano.” The “Morano”-painted interior surfaces are pearlescent, exquisitely chatoyant, and are at once able to reflect and refract light. “Morano” had a short-lived commercial application (mainly in the specter of hot rod finishing) and soon became unavailable.
Kauffman’s plastic forms once again morphed and evolved. He realized that plastic’s innate tendency to atrophy could be used to create a loop shape by slumping a one quarter-inch sheet over wire. Gradations of altering colors and the confluence of the background plane and the foreground (looping) plane vary the viewer’s chromatic experience based on proximity and light. Cascading bands of translucent pigmentation on the slumped plastic sheet bathe the background wall in variegated color.
Following the closing of Ferus, Kauffman exhibited his work from the late 1960’s regularly at Irving Blum Gallery in Los Angeles and Pace Gallery in New York. His work from this period resides in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Tate Modern, London, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Over the past two years Craig Kauffman’s early work has been re-examined in a number of group exhibition contexts: Ferus at Gagosian Gallery (9/12/02 – 10/19/02), LA’s Finish Fetish at Franklin Parrasch (9/16/03 – 10/11/03) and A Minimal Future? Art as Object 1958 – 1968, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (3/14/04 – 8/02/04) to name a few. A body of this work as a whole has not been visible in New York since a solo exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art in 1987.
Craig Kauffman: Works from the 1960’s will be on view at Franklin Parrasch Gallery from November 11 – December 21, 2004. For images, biography and further information please contact Holly Brown at (212)246-5360 or log onto the gallery’s website at www.franklinparrasch.com.