Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Beauty of Geometry

The new Claremont Museum of Art made just the right choice for its inaugural exhibition. Tightly organized and lovely to look at, the 42-year survey of 42 paintings (and one drawing) by Karl Benjamin honors the leading artist of the museum's home city.

Benjamin arrived in Claremont in 1952, a young public school teacher who had recently begun to paint, and in 1994 he retired from Pomona College and Claremont Graduate University as the schools' most distinguished art professor.

In between, he was one of four artists in the landmark 1959 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that coined the term "hard-edge painting," now in common usage for geometric abstraction that relies on color as a primary subject. (The others were John McLaughlin, Lorser Feitelson and Frederick Hammersley.) Color is the engine of perceptual experience and visual knowledge, and it's the platform on which the radical Light and Space art of the 1960s was built.

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