Published: August 12, 2016
LAGUNA BEACH, CALIF. — The Laguna Art Museum presents a comprehensive exhibition of the work of Los Angeles artist Peter Krasnow (1886–1979) in “Peter Krasnow: Maverick Modernist,” on view through September 25. The exhibition, “The Wave Portfolio: Photography by Anthony Friedkin,” runs simultaneously.
Born in Ukraine, Krasnow immigrated to the United States in 1907 and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After a solo exhibition at the Whitney Studio Club in New York, Krasnow and his wife Rose drove cross-country in 1922 to settle in Los Angeles, where he met photographer Edward Weston and began a lifelong friendship. Krasnow quickly became part of a small but active art community. His notable peers included fellow artists Henrietta Shore, Lorser Feitelson, Helen Lundeberg and June Wayne, as well as architects Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra.
Krasnow’s early works, largely realist portraits and symbolic carved sculptures, are accomplished examples of Social Realism and Art Deco. His “Demountables” of the 1930s and 40s — handcarved wood sculptures assembled from interlocking component parts — are organic abstractions drawing on traditions of folk and tribal art. His abstract paintings, whose bright, synthetic colors he chose to contrast with the dark political realities of the 1940s, are schematic tableaux that employ calligraphic symbols referencing spiritual ideas and organic processes. In both sculpture and painting, Krasnow developed styles that have surprising contemporary currency.
Featuring approximately 50 paintings and 20 sculptures, “Maverick Modernist” is the first museum survey of the artist’s work in almost 40 years. It features works on loan from public and private collections all over the country, as well as selections from Laguna Art Museum’s own extensive holdings. It is accompanied by a full-length catalog, the first monograph to be devoted to the artist.
Organized by Laguna Art Museum, the exhibition is curated by Michael Duncan, independent curator and corresponding editor of Art in America.
Renowned California photographer Anthony Friedkin made the 20 black and white photographs of his “Wave Portfolio” between 1977 and 2006, printing them in his own darkroom in Santa Monica. They show waves at Zuma Beach, Venice Beach, Hermosa Beach, La Jolla, Carmel and Santa Monica.
Friedkin is a lifelong surfer and self-styled “disciple of the sea.” In “Wave Portfolio,” he brings to his images a sense of both the power of the waves and their beauty as abstract forms.
“Waves are like liquid sculpture,” he has written. “They move with dynamic force and ethereal beauty … I do believe the ocean, with its jewel-like waves, is where we came from; and when I’m in the water, I feel like I’m connecting to something so mighty and so primordial it’s amazing. All the mysteries of life and death, light and darkness, space and time, are to be found there. By photographing the ocean waves I hope to reveal their secrets within.”
Born in 1949, Friedkin was educated at UCLA and the Royal College of Art in London. In addition to his fine art photography, he has had a successful career photographing on assignment for magazines such as Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone. He has also worked in Hollywood as a still photographer on movie sets.
The exhibition features a “Wave Portfolio” from the museum’s own collection, the gift of local photography collectors Dan and Mary Solomon in 2015, and is shown on the museum’s upper level.
The Laguna Art Museum is at 307 Cliff Drive. For further information, 949-494-8971 or www.lagunaartmuseum,org.
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