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Heavy Criticism Unfair to 'California Light'

November 03, 1990

I am dismayed by Cathy Curtis' review. My dismay arises from the increasingly apparent evidence that the staff of art reviewers working for the L.A. Times is guided mainly by the desire for astonishment; if that wish is not satisfied by the objects in the gallery, the reviewer either derogates by faint praise or writes an unpleasant account of the "boredom" suffered during the viewing.

Is Ms. Curtis unaware of the appreciation of the painters represented in the Laguna show by the emerging California bourgeoisie, quite analogous to the French bourgeoisie's appreciation of the French impressionists? Should Ms. Curtis go unchallenged in faulting the American collectors and curators who cherish the American impressionists?

The painters in the "California Light" show painted directly from their observation of the land- and seascapes of California. Is life or art supposed to be exclusively pizazz or dramatic or deliciously shocking? The "California Light" painters were as serious and skilled as their French antecedents; but they painted in the (then) smog-free, brilliant light of Southern California, while the French painted in their milky, opalescent light that so gently illuminates most of France.

HARRY ROBIN, Los Angeles

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