press release

In 1962, when Life magazine did a special issue on the state of California, it focused on five artists: Stanton Macdonald-Wright, John McLaughlin, Robert Irwin, Billy Al Bengston, and Roger Kuntz. While four of these artists remain central to our understanding of the history of California art and have received numerous monographic exhibitions, little has been written on the art of Roger Kuntz.

This exhibition of over ninety paintings, sculptures, and works on paper is the first major show of the artist’s work since his death, and will focus on Kuntz’s search for what he called the “middle ground” between figurative and non-figurative painting. By 1950, he believed that post-war abstract expressionism had run its course and that the time was ripe for the reappearance of structure in art that communicated to the viewer. Kuntz embarked on several painting series, culminating in the nationally acclaimed “Freeway Series.” These bare, geometric, paintings— dating from 1960 to 1962—of concrete canyons, underpasses, ramps, pedestrian spirals, tunnels, and signs, carved in deep shadow and light, embodied Kuntz’s search for the union of formal abstraction and mundane reality. This stylistic shift away from pure abstraction was in sync with the times, and Kuntz was included in the first national survey of Pop Art organized in 1963 by John Coplans, editor of Artforum magazine.

Roger Kuntz: The Shadow Between Representation and Abstraction, organized by Susan M. Anderson for Laguna Art Museum, features the “Freeway Series” as well as a selection from the artist’s interiors, beach, bathtub, blimp, and tennis series. Kuntz lived in Laguna Beach from 1964 until his death in 1975 at the age of forty-nine.

The exhibition is accompanied by a hardcover, 164-page color catalog with an essay by guest curator Susan M. Anderson and an introduction by Peter Plagens.

Major support for the publication of Roger Kuntz: The Shadow Between Representation and Abstraction is provided by The Segerstrom Foundation.

The exhibition and book are also made possible by the generous support of David and Linda O’Hoy, David and Sons Fine Arts; Richard W. Silver; Bente and Gerald E. Buck; Gene and Diane Crain; Industrial Metal Finishing; Susan and Robert D. Ehrlich; Donald and Liza Segretti; Patsy Tartaglia; Mary and Matt Lawson; Martha and James Newkirk; Maureen Murphy Fine Arts, Montecito, California; and Cassie Hammond.

Roger Kuntz: The Shadow Between Representation and Abstraction