Works on Paper
January 24 - February 28, 2015
Reception: January 24, 2015 4-6PM
As a teenager in the early 50s, Don Bachardy and his brother Ted, smartly dressed in suits, went to Hollywood premieres and approached stars such as Marilyn Monroe to ask for an autograph and a photo together. Don still has stacks of these vintage 8x10” silver prints of himself with movie legends. At the age of 18, he met the noted British author Christopher Isherwood (age 48) on the beach in Santa Monica, and the two of them spent their lives together until Isherwood’s death in 1986. While studying at the Chouinard Art Institute, Don began drawing portraits of Chris, who then introduced Don to his circle of friends that included literary figures, artists and film people. Since then, Bachardy has made thousands of portraits from life, never from photographs, at his studio in Santa Monica Canyon, where he still lives and works today. Don insists that the work is always about the collaboration between the artist and sitter, and creating a likeness from life. It is not about “celebrity;” all of his sitters sign their finished portraits whether or not they are famous. The list of his Hollywood sitters includes Natalie Wood, Jack Nicholson, Henry Fonda, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, Montgomery Clift and most recently, Marion Cotillard. He was even commissioned by Angelina Jolie to have her portrait made in the nude at various stages of her pregnancy. The exhibition at Craig Krull Gallery will include a selection of Hollywood portraits from the past 50 years and coincides with the new book, Hollywood, published by Glitterati.
Concurrently, the gallery will present its first exhibition of photo-based works by New York artist, Randy West. Much of West’s photographic practice directly addresses the fundamental physical properties of his subjects; erased chalkboards, black blades of grass on white backgrounds and wrinkled monochromatic cloth stretched across the picture plane. Indeed, it is that “integrity of the picture plane,” so central to Clement Greenberg’s observations on Modernist painting, that appears to be questioned by West in his new series, Works on Paper. In this body of work, West layers white, grey or black pieces of paper on a flatbed scanner in compositions of geometric pattern, sometimes allowing the “deep” space of the scanner box to become part of a composition where no paper is laid. Translucency of the overlapping papers creates subtle shifts in tone, suggestive of Ad Reinhardt’s minimal black on black paintings. In fact, West notes that this series was partially inspired by a book of Ellsworth Kelly’s black and white pieces in which each artwork was pictured on an off-white background to give it enough contrast to be visible. West’s images are 1:1 “duplications” of the original papers. Describing his process, he says, “Ultimately the goal is to enter the image’s space--whether printed on paper or represented on a screen--but in reality I cannot. It is a surface….paper has become my subject.”