Item: Untitled Construction
Designer/Maker: Russell W. Baldwin – One of San Diego’s most important mid-century artists, Baldwin studied at San Diego State during the late 50s with Everett Gee Jackson, Jean Swiggett, John Dirks, Martha Longenecker and Ilse Ruocco. He explored many forms of expression; painting, sculpture, drawing, ceramics and various constructed art forms and was a member of the San Diego Art Guild, the Allied Craftsmen and the Contemporary Arts Committee of the Fine Arts Society. Some of his first one-man exhibitions took place in La Jolla at the Jefferson Gallery in 1964 and the La Jolla Museum of Art in 1965. He wrote his masters thesis on sand-casting for sculpture during this period, but quickly moved on to hard-edge constructions and polychrome mixed-media works that were exhibited in La Jolla and in his 1966 one-man exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1966. He was one of San Diego’s earliest pioneers of conceptual art, working alongside fellow artist-teachers Bob Matheny and John Baldessari, who taught at Southwestern College while Baldwin taught at Palomar College. He taught for many years in the art department there and established the Boehm Gallery while just beginning at Palomar.
Description: Containing aluminum shavings and mirrored vertical strips within a painted frame of wood and glass, this construction was exhibited in Baldwin’s first one-man show at the Jefferson Gallery in 1964. A series of these constructions that combine crisp areas of color or mirrors, with industrial shavings (collected by the artist at the Convair Aeronautics plant), were exhibited together with Baldwin’s cast bronze sculpture and drawings. In his review of Baldwin’s Jefferson show for The San Diego Union, Dr. Armin Kietzmann called the result “Surprise in Three Forms.”
Kietzmann described the constructions as: “neatly done frames of wood and glass or mirrors, filled with aluminum, steel and brass shavings which show through geometrical designs -circles, rectangles, triangles, squares or crosses- masked out on the glass. To the encounter of geometry and texture comes the attraction of sprayed-on bright colors, and the mirror reflections add movement to rigidity.”
The critic also suggests that, when combined with the other exhibits, Baldwin’s constructions draw attention to the artist’s “abrupt yet consequential shift to the hard-edge idiom.”
Signed and dated, 1964. From the estate of Russell Baldwin.
Dimensions: 31″ x 31″ x 1-3/4″ deep
Condition: Good with oxidation or discoloration of the mirrors with age
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