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#20, 1979, 1979
#5, 1979, 1979
Karl Benjamin, a major Southern California painter and one of the original hard-edge abstract painters, opens an exhibition of paintings at Brian Gross Fine Art on Thursday, May 22, with a First Thursday reception on June 5 from 5:30-7:30pm. In his second exhibition with Brian Gross, Benjamin will present his vibrant geometric stripe paintings, created between 1979 and 1981.
The stripe paintings exemplify the artist's concern with systematically dividing pictorial space with meticulous bands of color. Richly painted and ranging in size from two to six feet high, the canvases from this period are intuitively divided into vertical segments through Benjamin's intricately rendered narrow bands of color. The brilliant shades of magenta, orange, blue, green, yellow, and red seem to pulsate, emerging and receding from the deceptively flat surface, and giving each composition a unique optical presence. Intense and luminous, the stripe paintings are a dynamic interplay of color and geometry.
In 1959, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art organized a landmark exhibition entitled "Four Abstract Classicists" presenting works by four Los Angeles artists: Karl Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, Frederick Hammersley and John McLaughlin. The show's curator coined the term "hard edge painting," noting their similar stylistic concerns. Their works are characterized by clean edged, interlocking geometric forms rendered in flat color and occupying the entire picture plane. More recently, Benjamin's work was included in Claudine Humblet's definitive work on American abstract painters, La Nouvelle Abstraction Américaine de 1950 à 1970 (Skira, 2003).
Karl Benjamin was born in Chicago, IL in 1925. He received his BA from University of Redlands, Redlands, CA and his MFA at Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, CA. He was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Visual Arts in both 1983 and 1989. His work has been featured in numerous museum exhibitions and is included in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, Israel; Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Seattle Art Museum, WA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, among others. For many years, Benjamin taught painting at Pomona College and Claremont Graduate School, and currently is Professor Emeritus. He lives in Claremont, CA.