Craig Kauffman: Late Work, Danese Gallery, New York, NY

Craig Kauffman, Untitled, 2009
Acrylic lacquer and glitter on drape-formed acrylic plastic
36 x 40 x 8 inches

September 10 – October 9, 2010

Craig Kauffman rose to prominence in the 1960’s through his association with the legendary Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles and later in New York at The Pace Gallery. He was an early innovator and pioneer in the use of plastics and the first to employ vacuum form technology to create sculpture. Along with Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Larry Bell and John McCracken, Kauffman’s work was included in Barbara Rose’s groundbreaking 1967 exhibition, A New Aesthetic, a survey of minimal and reductivist art. In the catalogue accompanying that exhibition, Rose referred to Kauffman’s work as achieving “a kind of abstract eroticism that is purely visual.”

The current exhibition includes work from three series. The Bubbles, in two different scales, reintroduce Kauffman’s classic, convex form, first created in 1968. “Throughout this extended if intermittent attention to the acrylic medium, both pigment and support, Kauffman retained idiosyncratic shape and inflated volume…. In spraying thin layers of acrylic lacquer mixed with reflective paint…, he created the illusion that the color was within the plastic surface…. The dimensional properties were balanced by ongoing painterly concerns of color, light and illusion, even while working on a curved and slippery surface. The newest pieces, no less than those that he created in the late sixties, are uniquely effulgent, radiant, as though generating light from within.“

Also on view are works from two other recent series, the Flowers and the Donuts. The Flowers, in contrast to the Bubbles, are concave hexagons. As Los Angeles art critic Christopher Knight observes, “think overgrown morning glories…or flesh brushed with satin and spangles…. The strangely poignant collision of sumptuousness and vulgarity, elegance and tawdriness gives these works a surprising heft.” The Donuts, as the generic title implies, are asymmetric convex ovals with holes, “sprayed in delicious coatings of silvery hues.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1932, Kauffman began his studies in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California, later transferrring to the Dept. of Art at UCLA in 1952, where he received a BFA in 1955, and his MFA the following year. His work is included in major museum and private collections throughout the United States and abroad. Kauffman lived for nearly twelve years in the Philippines where he continued to work until his death in May 2010.

A fully illustrated catalogue, with an essay by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, accompanies the exhibition, which is presented in association with Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.