It was only three weeks ago that we wrote up the Modern in this space (“Performing Pain,” May 8), but the art museum has another show featuring California art opening this week, and it’s just as well worth investigating as the Disappearing — California c. 1970 exhibit that’s also going on. David Park: A Retrospective looks at the career of the modernist rebel who died too soon.
Park was born in Boston but didn’t gain fame until he moved out West to study. Later, he taught at what was then the California School of Fine Arts, where he became dissatisfied with the abstract expressionism propounded by fellow teacher Clyfford Still. Eventually, he took all his abstract canvases to a garbage dump in the East Bay area and started rendering people in the warmth of oils on canvas, forming what became known as the Bay Area Figurative Movement. The manner in which he painted his portraits evolved over time from a Picasso-influenced cubism to an expressionism redolent of Matisse and Cézanne. Some of his most vivid work was done toward the end of his life, after he was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer and took up drawing and watercolors after becoming too weak to work with oils. Where some corners of modern art grew too cold and formalistic, Park lent warmth and humanity to American art when it was needed.
David Park: A Retrospective runs Sun thru Sep 8 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St, FW. Admission is $10-16. Call 817-738-9215