Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

David Park: Personal Perspectives

David Park produced a late body of work extraordinary for its focus and direction. In a sharp shift from abstraction to figuration. Park’s move stands out as a re-orientation of radical proportion. Yet it is as a teacher and mentor that Park presides as the cornerstone of an entire art movement and perspective, which came to be known as Bay Area Figurative Art in the 1950s. Concurrently, the Richmond Art Center in its new civic facility of galleries and studios, mounted a series of pivotal exhibitions and workshops highlighting the figurative Bay Area artists through it series of exhibitions and programs which provided a platform for several emerging artists to launch their careers. The Richmond Art Center was an important venue for David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, and the artists active in their time.

Celebrating its 80th Anniversary, the Richmond Art Center will curate and present companion exhibitions that trace the human figure as vehicle in Bay Area art. Scheduled for March 19 – May 22, 2016, the exhibitions David Park: Personal Perspectives and The Human Spirit with accompanying programming and catalog will focus on the historical and aesthetic development of Bay Area figurative art over the past 60 years. In conjunction with the exhibitions the Richmond Art Center will offer a set of informative public programs including performances, video, music, and a series of talks.

Anchoring this project is the exhibition David Park: Personal Perspectives, containing 35 works on paper in various media executed from the 1930s through 1960, the last year of his life. Drawn from his estate and private collections, these include works exhibited for the first time. Presented in the intimate South Gallery, the visitor will have an unique opportunity to study his space, his compositions, and his very personal narratives.  In the focus on the human figure, Park reclaimed the concrete expression of the human experience. Drawing from the model was a routine which gave structure to the weekly drawing sessions with Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff. This is work which drew former students and friends, most notably Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff, as well as their students after them, into an investigation and a vocabulary which had been abandoned throughout their circle of peers, indeed, throughout the art centers of the world.

Park set the stage and inspired his cohorts and the generations since to follow the singular and the diverse impulses evident in figurative art explored in the drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and performance represented in the Art Center’s companion exhibition, The Human Spirit. With these elements considered, the companion exhibition will establish a bridge from David Park as the catalyst for the development of Bay Area Figurative Art to the activities of contemporary artists who move between painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography to explore issues of figuration, identity, and humanistic perspectives.


Throughout the exhibition, the Richmond Art Center will present a series of public programs. This includes a discussion with Helen Park Bigelow, daughter of the artist, a plein air workshop exploring gouache and watercolor while referencing David Park, and a session for contemporary artists to draw from the model while referencing David Park’s approach to the figure. A roundtable discussion with artists exhibited in The Human Spirit will establish contemporary concerns and visual approaches in the fluid movement across diverse media. A panel of art writers is planned for a round table discussion of art criticism, shifting frameworks and systems of analysis, and what it means to step outside the historical flow. The forum will include the voice of Terri Cohn, critic, independent curator and educator (San Francisco Art Institute), DeWitt Cheng, writer and curator of Stanford Spaces as well as writers who cross print and electronic media, and John Zarobell, curator, art historian, and Director of International Studies at San Francisco University.

We hope you will join us for upcoming events and performances in conjunction with this event. Please view our Event Calendar for the entire series.

Untitled (Seated Man)
Ink on paper, n.d.
17 x 13 3/4 in.

Collection of Helen Park Bigelow

© Courtesy of Hackett | Mill representative of the Estate of David Park

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Richmond, CA 94804-1600


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