Hans Burkhardt’s (1904–1994) expansive career and influence in Los Angeles are the focus of a survey exhibition of paintings and drawings titled Hans Burkhardt: Within & Beyond the Mainstream. The exhibition, as part of the Getty’s initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945 – 1980, has been extended through January 31, 2012.
Arriving in L.A. in 1937, following his association with Arshile Gorky, whose studio he shared in New York from 1928-37, Burkhardt represented L.A.’s earliest and most critical link to the New York School. The exhibition juxtaposes Burkhardt’swork with contemporaneous reviews and rare archival documentation spanning more than six decades.
Included are important paintings shown in his first solo exhibition at the Stendahl Gallery, and his first museum exhibitionat the Los Angeles County Museum in 1945, which the L.A. Times called an exhibition of “… dynamic power … a strikingtransfer of feeling into form.”
Following that museum exhibition, Burkhardt was both critically celebrated and “censored,” as his works provedcontroversial in the years leading up to the McCarthy Era, when modern artists in L.A. were seen as Communist threats. Particularly controversial were his anti-war paintings and Hollywood studio strike paintings, including his “indictment” of then, Screen Actor Guild head, Ronald Reagan. “Less incendiary” subjects also proved controversial, such as hisCrucifixion Series – condemned for his use of red color and abstract style, regarded as subversive; examples of which areincluded in Hans Burkhardt: Within & Beyond the Mainstream.
Works of the 1950s onward were hugely influential to young artists emerging onto the scene. Artists ranging from Ed Kienholz, John Altoon and Karl Benjamin to Tony Berlant, Michael C. McMillen etc, were impacted by Burkhardt’s independent and provocative works, as he received extensive critical recognition. In the 1950s alone, Burkhardt had animpressive 23 solo exhibitions including a 10 year Retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum, as well as museums in theU.S., Mexico and the Sao Paulo Biennale.
In the 1960s Burkhardt was the subject of museum retrospectives at San Diego Art Institute and San Diego Museum of Art and afforded a 30 year retrospective exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum, San Francisco’s Palace of the Legion of Honor and Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery.
Also shown in the Rutberg exhibition are Burkhardt’s profound anti-war paintings of the 1960s and 70s, reacting to theVietnam War, prompting art historian Donald Kuspit to cite: “Burkhardt is the master – indeed the inventor of the Abstract Memento Mori.” Throughout these years, Burkhardt taught at numerous schools; among them: USC, UCLA, Choinard, Otis, and CSUN, where his influence was profound.
The reactive and prescient nature of Burkhardt’s work is evident in the exhibition, through the earliest anti-war subjects dating as early as 1938 through his final painting included in this exhibition dating 1993. His Graffiti Series of the early 1980s shows Burkhardt to have been among the earliest responses to graffiti art. In 1992 Hans Burkhardt received the American Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Hans Burkhardt was born in 1904 in Basel, Switzerland. He arrived in New York in 1924. When he arrived in Los Angeles in 1937, he represented the most critical link between L.A. and the New York School, as he was part of its genesis. Burkhardt lived in Los Angeles until his death in 1994.
Hans Burkhardt: Within & Beyond the Mainstream is part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980. This unprecedented collaboration brings together more than sixty cultural institutions and selected private galleries from across Southern California for six months to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene. Hans Burkhardt’s career was the most expansive in L.A.’s history, spanning more than six decades, influencing generations of artists.
Hans Burkhardt: Within & Beyond the Mainstream is extended through January 31, 2012 at Jack Rutberg Fine Artslocated at 357 N. La Brea Avenue. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and Saturday 10:00a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Related educational programs will be announced in the future. The exhibition is presented with thesupport of Consulate General of Switzerland. The estate of Hans Burkhardt, The Hans G. & Thordis W. Burkhardt Foundation, is exclusively represented by Jack Rutberg Fine Arts. For further information on the exhibition, educational programs please contact Jack Rutberg Fine Arts at (323) 938-5222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the The J. Paul Getty Museum’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980,
Hans Burkhardt works are featured in the following museum exhibitions:
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at
The Natural History Museum, 1945-1963
Through January 15, 2012
Los Angeles Municipal Gallery
Civic Virtue: The Impact of the Los Angeles
Municipal Art Gallery
December 15, 2011 – February 12, 2012
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in
Southern California 1951-1969
February 11, 2012 – May 6, 2012
Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Los Robles: A History of The Pasadena Art Museum
November 18, 2011 – April 8, 2012
Pasadena Museum of California Art
L.A. Raw: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles, 1945-1980
January 22, 2012 – May 20, 2012