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Driven to Abstraction: Southern California
Edmonson, Yellow Reward.

RIVERSIDE, CA.- The Riverside Art Museum is pleased to announce its major exhibition for the fall of 2006. Conceived and organized by RAM Senior Curator Peter Frank and RAM Associate Director Andi Campognone, “Driven to Abstraction: Southern California and the Non-Objective World, 1950-1980” provides a succinct but thorough survey of non-objective painting in southern California during the postwar decades – the thirty years during which Los Angeles (and its surrounding region) came of age as a major American art center – and began its emergence into the international art scene.

“Driven to Abstraction” goes on view on August 26, 2006. The gala reception, with many of the artists in attendance, will be held on Thursday, September 7, from 6 to 9 p.m. The Museum is offering a free coach ride from Bergamot Station to Riverside and back for the night of the Gala on a first reserved basis. The exhibition will remain on view until October 14.

Peter Frank describes “Driven to Abstraction” as “a small but, we hope, provocative contribution to the reassessment of southern California art history.” While most surveys of this period, in exhibition and in print, have focused on local artists’ innovations in the realms of assemblage, Pop, and light-and-space “perceptualism,” the distinctiveness of abstract painters’ achievements in the 1950s, `60s and `70s has not been so thoroughly examined. While signal developments such as “abstract classicism” and individual figures such as Sam Francis and Ed Moses have been recognized internationally, the dynamically evolving discourse they grew out of and contributed to has barely been acknowledged as a significant and enduring tendency within the aesthetic and social context of artistic practice in southern California.

Were the non-objective painters of the 1950s working in a vacuum? Did they receive no recognition outside the region? Did their successors continue their investigations, or invent entirely new ones? Was everybody doing flat wallwork in the context of “painting” actually painting? How did what the non-objective painters of a generation or two past prefigure what the far more numerous abstractionists of the last two decades have done? “Driven to Abstraction: Southern California and the Non-Objective World” attempts to answer these questions, but more importantly, asks them in the first place.

Featuring some forty artists active between 1950 and 1980, “Driven to Abstraction” fills the entire Riverside Art Museum. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Peter Frank, who has been critically and curatorially championing art from southern California for some thirty years – well before he left his native New York to resettle here. “Driven to Abstraction” exemplifies the Riverside Art Museum’s dedication to the art of California and to the investigation of its rich and complex history.

Pendant to “Driven to Abstraction,” a number of commercial and public galleries in and around Los Angeles have dedicated part or all of their August, September and October schedules to the display of abstract painting. These additional venues celebrating the “Driven to Abstraction” event are Carl Berg Gallery, Los Angeles; Berman/Turner Projects, Santa Monica; d.e.n. contemporary art, Culver City; Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica; Pharmaka, Los Angeles; and the Parks Exhibition Center at the Idyllwild Art Academy, Idyllwild.

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