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Small sculpture, drawings and jewelry by Claire Falkenstein at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts
Claire Falkenstein, Necklace. Brass, 9 x 5 1/4 x 1 inches. Photo: Courtesy Jack Rutberg Fine Arts.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- Claire Falkenstein - Intimate Relations presents rarely seen drawings, small sculpture and her highly prized jewelry. Transcending the traditional definition of the genre, Falkenstein’s jewelry was the subject of her 1961 solo exhibition at the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Decoratifs.

When Claire Falkenstein (b.1908, North Bend, Oregon - d.1997, Los Angeles) moved to Los Angeles in 1963, she had already achieved considerable critical recognition; not only in California, but in post-war Paris between 1950 and 1963.

In Paris, Falkenstein pushed the boundaries of sculpture and was at the core of the circle of international artists there as her studio was a conduit for artists ranging from Henry Moore to Sam Francis. She was soon recognized as one of the most daring sculptors of that epoch by the renowned French critic, Michel Tapié who recognized her inventive use of materials; particularly evident in her fusions of glass and metal. That adventurous use of materials also characterized her printmaking, when she impressed her sculptures into paper; first at the now renowned Atelier 17 in Paris, and later when commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum’s Graphic Arts Council.

Falkenstein’s first museum show was in 1940 at the San Francisco Museum of Art. Her works have been exhibited at the Tate in London, Rodin Museum and the Louvre in Paris, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian, Whitney Museum, LACMA, MOCA and many other institutions. Important commissions included her famous gates for the palace of Peggy Guggenheim in Venice, Italy. The small model for that work, also in the Guggenheim’s collection, is currently on view in LACMA’s exhibition, “California Design, 1930 – 1965: Living in a Modern Way.”

Upon her 1963 move to Venice, CA, Falkenstein established herself as one of the leading sculptors of L.A., working in both monumental and intimate scale. Major pubic sculptures are in institutions throughout Southern California, including: UCLA, USC, Long Beach Museum, California State University Long Beach, California State University Dominguez Hills, etc. Her stain glass sculptured windows on Wilshire Boulevard’s St. Basil Church and her glass and steel wall, “Sun Ribbon,” which envelops Isamu Noguchi’s rock garden in South Coast Plaza are among her most visible public works. She was a significant influence on a great many artists, receiving numerous honors, commissions and distinctions. In 1969, the Los Angeles Times distinguished Claire Falkenstein as “Woman of the Year.”

In February 2012, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts will present a second Falkenstein exhibition, Claire Falkenstein: An Expansive Universe, featuring larger scale works, launching the publication of a major monograph “Claire Falkenstein” with essays by art historians Susan M. Anderson and Maren Henderson, and art writer and critic Michael Duncan, with an introduction by Philip Linhares, Chief Curator of Art at the Oakland Museum of California. Falkenstein’s works reveal her prescient fascination with the expanding possibilities of chance and choice and how that parallels current views of our own expanding universe.

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Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

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