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Bay Area Figurative


The application of Abstract Expressionist technique to realistic subject matter, it was a style of painting prevalent in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California from the 1940s to 1960s.  Bay Area Figurative painting began with teachers at the California School of Fine Art.  Leading artists were David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Brown, Manuel Neri, Nathan Oliviera, Paul Wonner and Elmer Bischoff.  The movement was a reaction to the popular Abstract Expressionism in New York.  In the Bay area style, images were still quite abstract and painted with much expressionist style, but there was a rejection of total abstraction.  Elements of realism such as human figures could be seen.  However, these figures seldom conveyed a sense of human vitality or realism and were more like elements in a still life.  For many, the Bay Area Figurative movement marked the end of the dominance of Abstract Expressionism and the return of some realism to 20th century art.  Elmer Bischoff told critic Thomas Albright that Abstract Expressionism was "playing itself dry.  I can only compare it to the end of a love affair." Source: Robert Atkins, "ArtSpeak"




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