Seraphin Gallery has recently acquired two paintings from the early 1960s by famed West Coast abstract expressionist, John Hultberg. Educated at the California School of Fine Arts, known today as the San Francisco Art Institute, Hultberg’s teachers included Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. In 1948 he created portfolio of lithographs aside his fellow classmates entitled Drawings, which has been acknowledged as a pivotal moment in Abstract Expressionist printmaking. Heavily influenced by this experience, his tendencies to make minimal and dark Abstract Expressionist paintings only grew to shape his artistic reputation we are familiar with today. His works are in the permanent collections of galleries such as the Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Portland Museum of Art, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Both paintings, Untitled and Green Night Destruction, are very indicative of his work, and finely demonstrate the dark and mysterious landscapes that Hultberg is most noted for. With surrealist invented landscapes and a combination of abstract and representational languages, these pieces set a very specific tone for the viewer. Although there is vagueness in terms of space, the handling of the paint, such as a thin wash versus impasto, suggests a specific setting with depth and dimension. The high level of contrast throughout his works, further exemplify the landscape in which Hultberg is experimenting with-- dark hues and bright white lines blur the lines between reality and fantasy. Compositionally, the works are almost a vignette, drawing the eye to a more defined part of the canvas and then receding into what could only be determined representationally as a vacuum or deep space. A level of science fiction resides within Hultberg’s work evoking stormy wasteland, apocalyptic cityscapes, forgotten ruins or an empty galaxy.
These pieces are currently on view at Seraphin Gallery. John Hultberg now joins our 20th century portfolio of post war artists that currently includes Claes Oldenburg, George Segal, Arman, Willem de Kooning, and Harry Bertoia, among others. Please click here to view his artist page on our website.