2010 – Semester 02
Craig Kauffman     
Primarily abstract

Cover: Craig Kauffman (March 31, 1932 – May 9, 2010) was an artist who has exhibited since 1951. Kauffman’s primarily abstract paintings and wall relief sculptures are included in over 20 museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tate Modern, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, , Seattle Art Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.


Kauffman himself took a firm position regarding his chosen materials, writing in his statement for A New Aesthetic, 1967 that: “I didn’t start out with the idea of an industrial aesthetic. I believe the artist’s strength lies not primarily in his intellect, but in his sensibility turned into intelligence. I began working in plastic with an idea of form it is true, but my principal impetus was a passion for a kind of color, a kind of light, a sensual response to material.” This responsiveness to material and sensitivity to color relationships characterizes Kauffman’s oeuvre. The late works on display achieve their lush presence through the artist’s integration of spray-painted color and form.

Craig Kauffman (1932–2010) was a major Los Angeles artist whose work has been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad since 1951. Kauffman remained an active and enthusiastically received painter who was equally well recognized for his history of adventurous engagement with new materials. He is one of the most prominent and influential artists to have come out of Los Angeles, having shown with Felix Landau Gallery in the 1950s and later at Ferus during the 1960s.

Kauffman’s work has been included in a number of important historical exhibitions, including A New Aesthetic (Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington D.C., 1967); The First Show: Paintings and Sculpture from Eight Collections 1940-1980 (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1983); and Sunshine and Noir: Art in L.A. 1960-1997 (Louisiana Museum, Denmark, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, and Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 1997-1998). More recently, Kauffman’s work was presented in Time & Place: Los Angeles 1957-1968 (Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2008-2009); Primary Atmospheres: Works from California 1960-1970 (David Zwirner Gallery, New York, 2010); Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface (Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, 2011); and Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970 (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2011).