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Heartfelt Reality Of Philip Evergood

January 18, 1987|JOSINE IANCO-STARRELS

"Never Separate From the Heart: Philip Evergood, 1901-1973," at UCLA Jan. 27 through March 22, presents a retrospective view of a major black artist's work in about 100 paintings, drawings and prints.

Evergood's figurative imagery, which developed during the 1930s, has been variously defined as Surrealist, Expressionist or Gothic because it doesn't fit neatly into a single category. He defied stylistic conventions and viewed everything as larger than life. Though an excellent draftsman, he preferred to emulate the direct, natural style of children's drawings. The results were paintings that often contained more emotional impact than formal polish.

Emerging during the Depression with an awareness of social problems, he depicted the struggles of ordinary people, criticizing an economic system that produced poverty, racism and homelessness.

"Though a large part of my work deals with the humorous, the ridiculous and the bawdy," Evergood said in 1959, "I am always associated in the minds of the critics and public alike with the undernourished and emaciated members of society. The symbol of the underdog has been my burden and my banner."

An artistic maverick from his student days at London's Slade School of Art, Evergood was just reaching maturity when Abstract Expressionism burst on the scene and overshadowed artists who worked in more realistic styles.

Although respected by the artists of his generation, Evergood stood alone in his aesthetic perceptions--separate from the mainstream of American art, usually at odds with the art establishment and under-recognized for his achievements.

A symposium moderated by UCLA's Wight Gallery director Edith Tonelli, featuring exhibition curator Kendall Taylor and artist Harry Sternberg, a friend of Evergood, will be held next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Information: (213) 825-9345.

"Portrait of a Collector: Stephane Janssen" is the new attraction at Cal State Long Beach's University Museum, Jan. 27 through March 8.

Janssen's collection centers on Northern European Abstract Expressionist painters of the Cobra group, notably Karel Appel, Asger Jorn and Pierre Alechinsky. Cobra is an acronym for Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, the cities where the movement flourished from 1948 to 1951. Artists in the group developed ideas explored by the Dadaists and Surrealists of an earlier generation. They also worked with concepts of Art Brut as defined by Jean Dubuffet, assemblage art, children's art, primitive art and the art of the insane.

Though Janssen bought his first painting at 16, he began his career in art as a pioneer dealer for Cobra artists, opening his first gallery, La Balance, in Brussels in 1965. Three years later he launched the Galerie Stephane Janssen in Brussels and operated it until 1976.

Since then, he has collected works by contemporary artists which extend his Cobra association; among them Dubuffet, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Deloss McGraw, Joe Fay and Michael Hafftka.

The exhibition was organized by the Louisianna Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Denmark, where it made its debut. After its Long Beach engagement the show will tour the United States. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

A symposium in conjunction with the "Spiritual in Art" exhibition at County Museum of Art takes place Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the museum's Bing Auditorium. Robert Rosenblum, professor of fine arts at New York University; Konrad Oberhuber, curator of drawings at the Fogg Art Museum, and Hilton Kramer, editor of New Criterion magazine and former art critic for the New York Times, will participate in the program, titled "Three Responses to 'The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting, 1890-1985.' " General admission is $10; museum members, senior citizens and students with ID, $8.

Still life paintings by American modernist Henry Lee McFee go on exhibition today through Feb. 18 at Pomona College's Montgomery Gallery in Claremont.

Organized by John C. Baker of Massachusetts College of Art for the Center Gallery of Bucknell University, the show was previously seen at the National Museum of American Art in Washington. McFee's oeuvre, now considered part of the Formalist Realism of the 1930s, was inspired by Cezanne and stylistically related to Cubism. While Precisionist painters focused on the urban/industrial landscape, the Formalist Realists' choice of subject matter was predominantly still life and interiors.

The exhibition traces McFee's work from early Cubist pieces (1916-1930) to Formalist Realist works (1930-1936) and culminates in paintings done from 1936 to 1950. McFee taught at Scripps College from 1942 until his death in 1953; several works in the exhibition were painted during that late period and some are in the permanent collection of the Claremont Colleges.

Seventeen "Illuminated Gothic Manuscripts" of the 13th and 14th centuries will be on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum Tuesday through April 5.

Such manuscripts are among the treasures of late medieval art; painters of miniatures were as accomplished in their field as were the architects who built the great French cathedrals of the 12th and 13th centuries. The miniaturists of this period developed increasingly realistic depictions of human figures and faces.

The Gothic period witnessed a fundamental change in the patronage system for artists who illuminated manuscripts. In earlier times, individually hand-illustrated luxury books were made exclusively as devotional objects for secular rulers and princes of the church, but the growth of cities and universities expanded the readership and subject matter.

Reflecting this change, the exhibition includes illuminated copies of law books as well as volumes dedicated to other scholarly lines of investigation, among them a "bestiary" (treatise on real and imaginary animals) and "The Wonders of the World," an account of humans and animals inhabiting exotic lands.

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