Monotype, 10 1/4" by 13", as framed 14 3/4" by 17 1/2" (a monotype is a unique work of art made by pressing against paper the still-wet ink or painted design which the artist has placed on a glass or metal plate), signed at lower left in pencil and dated there 1987, by the important and still highly underrated Swiss-California modernist HANS GUSTAV BURKHARDT (1904-1994). The subject is an abstract composition in various shades of violet, red, blue and white, primarily. Burkhardt was born in Switzerland and arrived in America in 1924. He attended Cooper Union and Grand Central School in New York in the latter part of the 1920's, meeting and working with Willem de Kooning. From 1929 to 1936 was a student of the famous artist Arshile Gorky, with whom he went on to became a close friend. By 1937, Burkhardt was in Los Angeles, where the prestigious Stendhal Gallery held an exhibition of his work, that exhibition arranged by the progressive modernist of that period in Los Angeles, Lorser Feitelson. While in Southern California, Burkhardt met the likes of the surrealists Man Ray, and Eugene Berman, and modernist Knud Merrild. Isolated from the art centers of Europe and the east coast, he steered his own course in modernism for the next fifty years. Major museums around the nation and abroad held exhibitions of his work from about 1947 through the late 1950's, some comparing him to east coast figures Hans Hofmann, De Kooning, and Gorky himself. By the late 1950's Burkhardt was already a mentor and teacher himself, at USC, Otis Art Institute and Chouinard, and thousands of students have traced their artistic background to his teachings. Burkhardt was a prolific artist himself until perhaps the 1980's, as he turned vigorously to printmaking, judging from the sheer number of images he created. Variously described as an abstract expressionist, cubist, and modernist, Burkhardt's large body of work, created over such a long lifetime, varies enormously in both style and medium. He worked in many media, including oil, pastel, mural, mosaic, and printmaking; and many subjects, including figurative, abstract, landscape, marines, are seen in this body of work--sometimes, mixed together in a unique style. Many have tried to interpret his message, which often deals with death, war, and man's inhumanity to man. THE PRESENT WORK: Fresh from an estate locally, this is very crisp and fresh. I think the work is meant to hang horizontally, with the signature at lower left, but it has been wired to hang vertically for some reason. Ask for information on many prints by the artist I will be offering for sale.
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