David Park, The Model, 1959. Oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery, Partial promised gift of Karen, Lawrence, and Ellen Eisner, in memory of their mother, Anita Brand Eisner; gift of Laila Twigg-Smith, by exchange; and purchased with the Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Fund; the Walter H. and Margaret Dwyer Clemens, B.A. 1951, Director’s Discretionary Fund for the Yale University Art Gallery; the Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund; The Iola S. Haverstick Fund for American Art; The Heinz Family Fund; the Katharine Ordway Fund; the Joann and Gifford Phillips, Class of 1942, Fund; and the George A., Class of 1954, and Nancy P. Shutt Acquisition Fund. Courtesy of Hackett | Mill, representative of the Estate of David Park

March 19, 2014

Five West Coast Artists: Bischoff, Diebenkorn, Neri, Park, and Thiebaud

PDF icon Press Release (PDF)

March 28–July 13, 2014

Organized by the Gallery’s director, the exhibition presents the work of five artists central to the Bay Area school

The Yale University Art Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Five West Coast Artists: Bischoff, Diebenkorn, Neri, Park, and Thiebaud. Organized by Gallery director Jock Reynolds, this exhibition features 32 works by West Coast artists drawn primarily from the Gallery’s permanent collection and includes paintings, sculpture, prints, and drawings. The exhibition runs from March 28 to July 13, 2014.

Exhibition Overview

Beginning in the mid-20th century, out of the studios, art schools, and universities of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, a major trend in American art developed, one that adapted and transformed some of the painterly techniques of Abstract Expressionism to render the human figure and other subjects recognizable once more and in powerful new ways. The exhibition presents the work of five artists central to this movement—David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud, and Manuel Neri—whose devotion to teaching not only helped to support each other but also strongly influenced new generations of artists, including Reynolds, who studied with Neri and Thiebaud at the University of California, Davis. Included in the exhibition is Park’s late masterpiece The Model (1959), a painting recently purchased by the Gallery. It is accompanied by an array of other important new acquisitions from the Bay Area school as well as many major works long at the Gallery but never before shown in concert with one another. “As a student, I was inspired by these artists, admiring them for their teaching, their studio practice, and their artistic output,” shares Reynolds. “Decades later, as a practicing artist, museum director, and wholehearted proponent of the Gallery’s teaching mission, it is a great joy and privilege to curate this exhibition in recognition of the Bay Area school’s contributions to the canon and their legacy of educating and inspiring generations of artists.”

The recent acquisition of Park’s Model prompted Reynolds to look afresh at related works in the museum’s collection, including important paintings from the 1950s and 1960s, such as Diebenkorn’s Girl with Cups (1957) and Ocean Park No. 24 (1969), and Thiebaud’s Drink Syrups (1961), an iconic work from the artist’s first solo show, in 1962 at New York’s Allan Stone Gallery. Two sculptures by Neri, one bronze and one plaster, and two lush, large oil paintings by Bischoff complement these objects.

“The depth and breadth of the Gallery’s holdings of works by Bay Area artists is remarkable for an East Coast institution,” explains Pamela Franks, Deputy Director for Exhibitions, Programming, and Education and Interim Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “We are thrilled that the special-exhibition spaces in the expanded museum allow curators to mine the collection and create focused installations of this quality and novelty.”

The works in the exhibition display a lavish use of pigment, bold color, and broad, passionate brushstrokes, illustrating the influence of Abstract Expressionism on this circle of artists. Also visible in the works is the singularity of the Bay Area school’s communal desire to reinvigorate the portrayal of the figure, as well as the artists’ influence on each other. “The exhibition feels like a reunion of lifelong friends, or perhaps kin born of artistic exploration,” says Franks. “Either way, it’s a homecoming of sorts, one which the Gallery is honored to host and which we hope many will have the opportunity to enjoy firsthand.”

Related Programs

Gallery Talk
Wednesday, April 23, 12:30 pm
Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director, Yale University Art Gallery

Lecture and Conversation
Thursday, May 1, 5:30 pm
“Painting the Figure: David Park and Art in Postwar San Francisco”
Nancy Boas, independent scholar, with Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director, Yale University Art Gallery

Exhibition Tour
Friday, June 20, 1:30 pm
Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director, Yale University Art Gallery

Exhibition Support

Five West Coast Artists: Bischoff, Diebenkorn, Neri, Park, and Thiebaud is made possible by the Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund.

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