One of four new exhibitions scheduled to open in the month of December, Sullivan Goss presents ANDERS ALDRIN: Color Seeking Form. Culled from the Estate of the Artist, Color Seeking Form describes Aldrin’s artistic project in terms of the way that color is separated from form and content. The subjects are traditional, the colors not so. Twelve paintings that haven’t been seen in many decades trace Aldrin’s preoccupation with color from his student days at Otis and the Santa Barbara School of Art to a Rothkoesque seascape painted in Sweden in around 1961.
Anders Aldrin was born in Varmland, Sweden and emigrated to the US with the dream of becoming an artist at the relatively old age of twentytwo. He enlisted to fight in World War I, contracted tuberculosis, and used his convalescent period in Prescott, Arizona to begin drawing in earnest. He then took his Army pension and used it to buy a semester at Otis Art Institute in 1923. Continuing on scholarship with the enthusiastic support of his teachers, Aldrin went on to complete further study at the Santa Barbara School of Art in 1927, the California School of Fine Arts (today’s San Francisco Art Institute), and the Los Angeles Art Students League.
Although Aldrin made some brief experiments with the planar, faceted painting that grew out of Cézanne’s late painting, his principal interest was not with form or structure, but with color itself. His predecessors were Bonnard, Vuillard, Gaugin, and the Fauvists Matisse, Derain, and Vlaminck. His contemporaries were perhaps German Expressionists like Emil Nolde or Oscar Kokoschka.
These European artists, now so well known, were not so well known nor so well loved in Los Angeles in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. As such, Aldrin found the going tough. He was admired and well liked by famous area artists like Millard Sheets, Lorser Feitelson, and Dan Lutz. He was singled out by LA Times critic Arthur Millier for his superior ability. He even participated in a variety of exhibitions, including a contemporary painting exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1950. But Aldrin’s recognition as a significant California Modernist has largely been posthumous.
These ten paintings and two woodblock prints – four portraits, five still lifes, and four landscapes – offer timeless subjects in distinctive and sophisticated color palettes. In Southern California, Aldrin’s work stood way apart and looked far into the future. Looking at the latest painting in the exhibition, Untitled (Rothko Seascape) from 1961, it becomes obvious that Aldrin’s vision was as prescient as it was powerful.
2:39 | Jeremy Tessmer