FIRST SOLO MUSEUM SHOW IN THE UNITED STATES OF THE LATE ARTIST RUDOLF DE CRIGNIS SHOWCASES THE ARTIST'S EXPERIENTIAL MINIMALIST WORKS
“I use the art of painting to represent color as the transparent appearance of light.”-Rudolf de Crignis
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Berkeley, CA, December 19, 2012-Though the Swiss-born Rudolf de Crignis (1948–2006) suffered an untimely death at the age of fifty-eight, the artist left behind a large and magnificent body of work, including a vast collection of the meditative paintings for which he is renowned. He began his career as a performance and video artist, but a series of trips to New York in the early 1980s forever changed the course of his pursuits. Exhilarated by the Minimalist abstract works of Ad Reinhardt, Brice Marden, Blinky Palermo, Robert Ryman, and Agnes Martin he saw there, de Crignis made New York his primary residence in 1985, and soon began producing a series of seemingly monochromatic paintings that explore relationships among color, light, space, and viewer.
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presentation of Rudolf de Crignis / MATRIX 245 is the artist's first solo museum exhibition in the United States. The show brings together fourteen of the artist's signature blue-and-gray oil paintings, as well as eight graphite works on paper, produced between 1991 and 2006. At first viewing, de Crignis's paintings appear to be deeply saturated monochromes, but then they reveal themselves to be the result of layers upon layers of thin oil washes (sometimes as many as forty) with resonant tints of other hues. His exquisitely blue-and-gray paintings-no two alike-actually comprise an array of pigments-including ultramarine, cobalt blue, royal blue, Scheveningen Warm Gray, and Persian red. Displayed in natural light, the works are exercises in slow looking, unfolding as one views them from different vantage points. In his studio, de Crignis would often move his paintings from one wall to the next to capture the shifting light.
While de Crignis's oil paintings are the end result of a slow accumulation of materials, his delicate works on paper, which he called “paintings” are the culmination of a process of reduction. Using hard pencils, de Crignis covered the paper with horizontal and vertical lines, then erased them-a process that he repeated several times with each work. The partially erased graphite lines create a slight vibration, an optical pulse that can resemble the brushwork in his canvas works.
In 2005 de Crignis wrote about his paintings as works in progress, one decision leading to the next without a preordained plan. Above all, though, his goal was for his painting to be perceived as an experience. As Ken Johnson of the New York Times wrote, “At once formally severe and materially luxurious, Mr. de Crignis's paintings bridge the gap between the perceptual and the transcendental.”
MATRIX 245 is organized by Chief Curator and Director of Programs and Collections Lucinda Barnes in collaboration with the Estate of Rudolf de Crignis. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.
Rudolf de Crignis New York 1985–2006
Foreword by Lawrence Rinder. Text by Georg Imdahl. Interview with the artist by Joseph Cunningham.
Published by Radius Books
Hardcover, 9.5 x 12.5 in., 256 pgs., 120 color illustrations
Publication date: Spring 2013
Related Public Program
Wednesday, March 6, noon
Rudolf de Crignis and Color: Lawrence Rinder and Karen Schloss in Conversation
How do we perceive color spatially, perceptually, and emotionally? Join us for an exploration of these questions and others at this event celebrating Rudolf de Crignis / MATRIX 245 and marking the recent publication of Rudolf de Crignis New York 1985–2006, published by Radius Books and with a foreword by Director Lawrence Rinder. Rinder talks with Karen B. Schloss, a postdoctoral researcher in the Palmer Visual Perception and Aesthetics Lab at UC Berkeley, who specializes in color perception and behavioral studies of aesthetics. Following the conversation, Rinder will sign copies of the book.
Included with museum admission
Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley's primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA's mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”
BAM/PFA presents approximately fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum's collection of over 16,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 14,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.
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