Craig Kauffman: Works from 1962–1964 in Dialogue with Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp
April 30–June 25, 2016
In Sprüth Magers' inaugural exhibition with the Craig Kauffman Estate, the gallery presents a selection of early works on paper and plastic pieces from the 1960s that examine diagrammatic and fragmented abstract female forms as a precursor to his later three-dimensional wallworks. Following a period of travel in Europe from 1959 to 1961, Kauffman returned to his native Los Angeles to commence work on several series that looked to his personal interests in the historical avant-garde. Foremost was a reworking of the nude as machine that took place some decades earlier by Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia. Their shared interests in new materials and the mechano-erotic human form inspired Kauffman to react against the abstract painting of the 1950s. A selection of their works in the exhibition investigates this dialogue.
In a series of collages and drawings dating from 1961 to 1963, sensual and mechanical pendulous forms are derived from lingerie catalogues—both as source material and the ground onto which he works. Borrowing shapes from these commercial magazines, the increasingly abstracted designs incorporate underwear bursting at the seams, perilous high heels and isolated sections of an erotically charged female form. These often appear as technical appendages, creating a diagrammatic bionic form. Trailing tentacles and teats resemble limp hosiery or loosely drawn anatomical diagrams, reducing the human body to its constituent parts.