Craig Kauffman: Architectural Painting
The works of Craig Kauffman (1932-2010) are regarded among the most seminal made in post-war California. Along with his peers from the Light and Space movement—Larry Bell, Peter Alexander and Robert Irwin— Kauffman employed industrial vacuum-forming technology to explore the sculptural and tactile properties of new materials like plastic and acrylic. Often characterized as ‘finish fetish’ due to its high polish and elegant form, Kauffman’s vibrant creations remain as captivating today as when they were first produced.
In the 1970s, Kauffman began to experiment with a new body of work, creating paintings that resembled fragmented buildings – termed “shanties” by art critic and curator Michael Auping. In the autumn of 1950, Kauffman enrolled in the USC School of Architecture. Although the young artist left USC after his first year to continue his studies in art at UCLA, he was continually fascinated with architecture and form for the remainder of his life. He started to make paintings using jelutong wood, a light, flexible, and sturdy material which enabled him to experiment with structural form. This body of work demonstrates the diversity of Kauffman’s practice, which continues to be reevaluated by critics and curators today.
One such example is V.P. with Red, an acrylic and wood on muslin painting from 1974, which was included in Kauffman’s survey exhibition in 1981-1982. In the catalogue essay for this exhibition, curator Robert McDonald wrote, “The earliest pieces in the group are structurally closely related to the several series of pressed formed Plexiglas, but with modified exterior frameworks […] as connectors of adjacent components, as in V.P. with Red.” The combination of curves, voids, and verticals combine to form an intricate, geometric composition and Kauffman’s skillful use of color is evident in the contrasting, textured strips of red, white, and blue. V.P. with Red continues Kauffman’s 1960s experiments of replacing painterly gestures with sculptural form.
V.P. with Red
Acrylic and wood on muslin
Initialed and dated verso; retains Ruth S. Schaffner Gallery label verso; retains La Jolla Museum of Art exhibition label verso
LAMA would like to thank the Estate of Craig Kauffman for their assistance in cataloguing this work
Overall: 73.75″ x 63″
March 5, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction
McDonald, Robert. Craig Kauffman: A Comprehensive Survey 1957-1980. La Jolla: Fellows of Contemporary Art, 1981. Print.
Allan, Ken, Lucy Bradnock, and Lisa Turvey. “For People Who Know the Difference: Defining the Pop Art Sixties.” Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art, 1945-1980. Ed. Rebecca Peabody. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011. 156. Print.