Los Angeles, CA – Hans Burkhardt’s (1904–1994) expansive career and influence in L.A. are the focus of a survey exhibition of paintings and drawings entitled “Hans Burkhardt: Within & Beyond the Mainstream” at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts from September 24th through December 24th. The exhibition, part of the October 1 inauguration of the Getty’s initiative ‘Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945 – 1980″, opens with a preview reception on Saturday, September 24th. 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 will also juxtapose Burkhardt’s works with contemporaneous reviews and rare archival documentation spanning more than six decades.
Included in the exhibition are important paintings shown in his first solo exhibition at the Stendahl Gallery, and his first museum exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1945, which the L.A. Times called an exhibition of “…dynamic power…a striking transfer of feeling into form.” Following that museum exhibition, Burkhardt was both critically celebrated and “censored,” as his works proved controversial 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 his Crucifixion Series – condemned for his use of red color and abstract style, regarded as subversive; examples of which are included in the exhibition. 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 an impressive 23 solo exhibitions including a 10 year Retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum, as well as museums in the U.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 will be Burkhardt’s profound anti-war paintings of the 1960s and 70s, reacting to the Vietnam 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.
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts in Los Angeles was established in 1979 as a gallery dealing in Modern and Contemporary art. In that capacity they have acted as dealer, curator, and consultant for more than 25 years, representing a wide range of important American and European artists. Jack Rutberg hismelf has lectured extensively on a wide range of subjects related to Modern and Contemporary art in colleges and universities, including the University of California Los Angeles, California State University Northridge, Utah State University, Pierce College, Fullerton College, Orange Coast College, and Rancho Santiago College. Credited with bringing significant artists to broader public attention, Mr. Rutberg has been particularly responsible for the formidable attention afforded to the Irish contemporary painter Patrick Graham and Swiss born American painter Hans Burkhardt (1904-1994). Both artists are represented internationally by Jack Rutberg Fine Arts. Mr. Rutberg is the exclusive agent for The Hans G. & Thordis W. Burkhardt Foundation. Regarded as an authority on their works, Mr. Rutberg has on frequent occasions lectured on both artists at numerous museums. Mr. Rutberg has published extensively on the works of Hans Burkhardt. Among the many catalogues published to date on Burkhardt, Mr. Rutberg has written the catalogue raisonné, Hans Burkhardt: The War Paintings, published by Santa Susana Press, California State University Northridge. Documented are Burkhardt’s paintings created in response to war, spanning the Spanish Civil War through the mid 1980’s. Other publications include Hans Burkhardt: Desert Storms, Burkhardt’s response to the Iraq Kuwait conflict, published in 1991, and Black Rain documenting Burkhardt’s final works dating from 1993 and most recently, Hans Burkhardt: Paintings of the 1960s. In more than 29 years at its La Brea Avenue location, the Rutberg Gallery has featured exhibitions by gallery represented artists Jordi Alcaraz, Hans Burkhardt, Patrick Graham, Reuben Nakian, Ruth Weisberg, Jerome Witkin and Francisco Zuniga in addition to a wide range of solo exhibitions of major international artists: Alexander Calder, Oskar Fischinger, Sam Francis, Arshile Gorky, George Herms, Hundertwasser, Käthe Kollwitz, Georges Rouault, Edward Ruscha, Antoni Tapies, Max Weber and others. The gallery has been particularly noteworthy for its emphasis on education, presenting numerous lectures and panel discussions. Through that endeavor, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts is an important resource for established and beginning collectors, art historians, and museums internationally. Visit the gallery’s website at … http://www.jackrutbergfinearts.com/