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  Craig
Kauffman
Craig Kauffman (1932-2010) was an artist internationally recognized for his sensuous use of color and new materials. Often cited as a seminal figure in the Los Angeles art world during the 1950s and 1960s, Kauffman first rose to the attention of critics and collectors with his first major one-man show of paintings at Felix Landau Gallery in 1953. Even at the age of 19, his work was very favorably reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, when he exhibited works inspired by Paul Klee at Felix Landau in 1951 in a group show. His paintings, distinctive for their open sense of space and sensuous use of line, were also included in landmark early Los Angeles exhibits such as Action I, held at the Merry-Go-Round Building on the Santa Monica Pier, which he co-organized with curator Walter Hopps and James Newman. Kauffman was one of the original members of the legendary Ferus Gallery, and participated in the opening show, Objects on the New Landscape Demanding of the Eye. Kauffman also had a solo show at Ferus, in June of 1958, which was regarded by critics and his peers as a major and influential exhibition of painting.

However, it was Kauffman’s wall relief sculpture in the medium of acrylic plastic that gained him international attention and fame. During the early 1960s, the artist began to experiment with painting on glass, having been influenced by seeing Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even at the Pasadena Art Museum during a 1962 retrospective organized by his friend Hopps. The fragility of the glass was frustrating for Kauffman, and he investigated the use of a new medium, acrylic plastic. After an initial group of works with flat plastic, Kauffman discovered the industrial process of vacuum forming, and proceeded to translate his sensuous forms to wall reliefs, painted on the reverse with sprayed acrylic lacquer. The works were shown first at Ferus, and subsequently picked up by Pace Gallery in New York, where they were very favorably received. By the summer of 1966, Kauffman’s’ acrylic plastic wall relief paintings were featured on the cover of Art in America.

Kauffman continued to exhibit at Pace in New York, and by 1967 his work had been acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art. At the time, the use of industrial materials and a reductive methodology was embraced by many mainstream artists. In what the artist considered to be the most accurate curatorial statement about his work, historian and critic Barbara Rose included Kauffman’s work in A New Aesthetic at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, along with seminal Minimal artists Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Kauffman’s colleagues Larry Bell, Ron Davis and John McCracken. As Barbara Rose noted in her catalogue essay, "Shaping the brittle sheet plastic into a series of voluptuous curves, Kauffman achieves a kind of abstract eroticism that is purely visual."

Craig Kauffman’s works were subsequently acquired by New York’s Museum of Modern Art (a 1969 acquisition by curator Kynaston McShine), the Tate Modern in London, the Chicago Art Institute, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MOCA, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, and over 20 other major institutions throughout the world. Kauffman’s work had a significant place in the history of late 20th century art, and is regularly included in surveys of art from the 1960s, as well as exhibits about Los Angeles art.

Although he is often associated with movements in Los Angeles art, his work was always informed by a broad historical knowledge of European painting and Asian art. Often working in series, Kauffman continued to explore unorthodox supports for painting during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Using materials ranging from fiberglass to silk, Kauffman always maintained a sensuous, high-key use of color. During a six decade career, he has continued to exhibit both in the U. S. and abroad, and most recently in Los Angeles at the Frank Lloyd Gallery. Reviewing the show for the Los Angeles Times, critic Christopher Knight wrote, "At Frank Lloyd Gallery, a show of recent, painted wall reliefs by Craig Kauffman continues to explore a trajectory begun by the artist more than 40 years ago….but it's the group of four, strangely glamorous wall flowers that captivate."

Born in Los Angeles on March 31, 1932, Robert Craig Kauffman was the son of Superior Court Judge Kurtz Kauffman. He was a childhood friend and classmate of Walter Hopps, and graduated from Eagle Rock High School in 1950. He enrolled in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California, but transferred to Department of Art at UCLA in 1952, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 1955 and Master of Fine Arts in 1956. Kauffman traveled and lived in Paris and New York during subsequent years, and also taught painting at the University of California from 1967 to the early 1990s. He subsequently took up residence in the Philippines, where he continued to work in a home and studio that he designed until his passing on May 9, 2010.




Museum Collections

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Fredrick R. Weisman Collection, Los Angeles, California
Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles, California
Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark
Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, California
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California
Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, California
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport, California
Philip Morris Foundation
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
The Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom
University of New Mexico Art Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2015      Drawings: 1958 - 1961, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica,
                    California
2014      A Survey of Late Work, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica,
                    California
2013      Constructed Paintings 1973 - 1976, Frank Lloyd Gallery,
                    Santa Monica, California
2012      The Numbers Paintings, Frank Lloyd Gallery,
                    Santa Monica, California
2011      Sensual/Mechanical, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2010      Loops, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
             Works on Paper Retrospective, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
             Late Work, Danese Gallery, New York
             New Work, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2009      Wall Relief Sculpture From the Sixties, Nyehaus, New York
2008      Craig Kauffman: A Drawing Retrospective, Armory Center for the Arts,
                    Pasadena, California
             New Wall Relief Sculpture, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2007      Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2004      Craig Kauffman: Works from 1960’s, Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York
2003      Sandra Gering Gallery, New York  
2001      Sandra Gering Gallery, New York
1999      Bubbles, Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1998      Painted Drawings, Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1995      New Work, Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1992      The Works Gallery South, Costa Mesa, California
1990      The Works Gallery South, Costa Mesa, California
1988      The Works Gallery, Long Beach, California
             New Paintings, Asher/Faure Gallery, Los Angeles, California
             Craig Kauffman: Wall Reliefs, 1967-69, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts
                    Forum, Santa Barbara, California
1987      Craig Kauffman: Wall Reliefs from the Late 1960's,  
                     Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
1985      Asher/Faure Gallery, Los Angeles, California
             Fuller Goldeen Gallery, San Francisco, California
1983      New Paintings, Asher/Faure Gallery, Los Angeles, California
             Craig Kauffman, Faith and Charity in Hope Gallery, Hope, Idaho
1982      Thomas Segal Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
             Blum Helman Gallery, New York
             Drawing, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1981      Craig Kauffman: A Comprehensive Exhibition, 1957-1980, organized by the La
                    Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art; traveled to the Elvehjem Museum of Art,
                    Madison; the Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University,
                    Richmond; and the Oakland Museum (1982)
             New Paintings, Asher/Faure Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1979      Recent Paintings, Grapestake Gallery, San Francisco, California
             New Works, Janus Gallery, Venice, California
             Blum Helman Gallery, New York
1978      Arco Center for Visual Art, Los Angeles, California
1976      Comsky Gallery, Los Angeles, California
             Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, New York
             Galerie Darthea Speyer, Paris, France
1975      Riko Mizuno Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1972      Galerie Darthea Speyer, Paris, France
             Pace Gallery, New York
             Irving Blum Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1970      Pasadena Art Museum, California, traveled to the University of California, Irvine
             Pace Gallery, New York
1969      Irving Blum Gallery, Los Angeles, California
             Pace Gallery, New York,
1967      Ferus/Pace Gallery, Los Angeles, California
             Pace Gallery, New York
1965      Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1963      Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1960      Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco, California
1958      Paintings and Drawings, Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
             Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco, California
1953      Felix Landau Gallery, Los Angeles, California