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Bischoff Abstractions, Figurative Paintings

November 16, 1986|JOSINE IANCO-STARRELS

"Elmer Bischoff: 1947-1985," which surveys the work of the noted Bay Area figurative artist in 50 paintings and drawings, lights at the Laguna Art Museum Thursday through Jan. 18.

Organized for Laguna by guest curator Robert Frash, the traveling show surveys the work of one of the seminal figures in Bay Area art. Works include a number of his early Abstract Expressionist compositions of the 1940s, as well as his better-known figurative paintings from the 1950s to the mid 1970s.

Large-scale gestural abstractions from the mid-'70s on mark yet another change in the artist's style; the earlier abstractions contain strongly contrasting relationships between brilliant raw color and layers of white paint, but the more recent ones reflect closely related colors.

A native Californian, Elmer Bischoff was born in Berkeley in 1916. After serving in World War II he joined the faculty at the California School of Fine Arts--the wellspring of Abstract Expressionism on the West Coast.

He formed close friendships with painters Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Frank Lobdell and Hassel Smith, who shared his interest in Abstract Expressionism; in the '50s, he abandoned abstraction, joining with Diebenkorn and Park in painting the figure and landscape in a revitalized manner, thereafter known as Bay Area figurative.

A color catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Published by the Laguna Art Museum, it features an introduction by LAM director William Otton and essays by Frash and art writer Jan Butterfield. Bischoff will discuss his work and his role within the Bay Area figurative school on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Laguna Art Museum. Admission to the lecture is $5 for museum members and students with ID, $7.50 for non-members. Seating is limited. Information: (714) 494-6531.

Barnett Newman's series of 14 paintings, "The Stations of the Cross" (1958-1966), has been acquired by the National Gallery of Art from the artist's widow, Annalee Newman. According to National Gallery of Art director J. Carter Brown, "Barnett Newman's 'Stations of the Cross' is an acknowledged landmark in 20th-Century America (and) world art. It stands out as a major achievement by one of America's foremost artists."

The series is a stark abstract group of compositions that adopt a traditional theme of Christian iconography. Rarely exhibited, they have black or white modulating bands of varying widths, (which Newman called "zips") extending from the top to the bottom of each painting.

The acquisition was made possible through a donation from Robert and Jane Meyerhoff of Phoenix, Md. The paintings are on view in the East Building for an indefinite period of time.

"Remembrances of Things Past" opens next Sunday at the Long Beach Museum of Art and continues through Jan. 18. The title--adapted from Marcel Proust's classic novel--points to artworks that intend to elicit impressions concerning time and memory.

On view will be recent works in painting, photography, film and video installations by 13 artists from urban centers including Arina Abramovic/Ulay (Amsterdam), Richard Baim (Brooklyn), Dara Birnbaum, Barbara Ess, Komar and Melamid, Laurie Simmons, Anne Turyn (New York); Jochen Gerz (Paris); Douglas Huebler (New-hall); Marcel Odenbach (Cologne) and Alexis Smith (Los Angeles).

The exhibition is accompanied by an 80-page color catalogue edited by Lane Relyea, featuring short prose, fiction and essays related to the exhibition's theme, by David Antin, Douglas Blau, Lydia Davis, Amy Gerstler, Tim Martin, Howard Singerman, Anne Turyn and Bernard Welt.

The LBMA Bookshop Gallery presents an exhibition of 60 modern and antique Panamanian Molas from the Janson/McCarthy collection. These intricately designed, brilliantly colored reverse applique panels, made by the San Blas Indians of Panama, depict world events and religious imagery as well as the flora and fauna of the Canal region.

Lee Janson and Joan McCarthy, who studied and collected these works for many years, will give an informal talk on Molas at the museum, Dec. 11, 7 p.m.

Two "Artists-in-Residence" workshops run by the California Arts Council for artists and non-profit organizations have been scheduled. The first will take place Wednesday, 7-9 p.m. at the Long Beach Senior Center, 1150 East 4th St., Long Beach. Contact Dixie Swift, (213) 435-7511; a second workshop is set for Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at L.A. Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), 804 Industrial St. Contact Judith Teitelman (213) 624-5650.

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