Karl Benjamin Paintings 1950-65

Louis Stern Fine Arts

 Black Pillars establishes the foundation of a clear art to an African standard. Totem Group III begins the metamorphosis through I.F. (Interlocking Forms) and I.F. (Interlocking Forms: violet & umber), i.e., from Picasso to Kelly.

How far this had risen, what an eminence it had attained several years before, may be seen in Red Sun/Blue Moon. And now we have defined some early parameters (this painting is a Klee Arab City) let us go on and note the definite landscape of Benjamin. Landscape Forms is made up of collapsible pillow forms delimiting a red gulch. We’re almost there. VS #1 is made of vertical bands of color, very particularly organized as color harmonies not dripped a la Louis. And for this purpose let’s stop at VS #2, a black latticework anchored at two edges, from which color springs optically.

Artful precision is the name of the game here. It must be simple and clear, evidently, so that color does all the pussyfooting, like wit in the actor’s mouth.

There are other foundations, other mirrors and mazes. Prismatic rhythms symmetrical or not, foreshaping Patrick Hughes. Again the ultimate refinement of Cubism, or the broadly intersecting forms (with gold) of Easter, leading to an independent expression, the key abstractions #26 and #27 in contrasting colors, orange and green or blue and purple.

The artist, keen and soft-spoken, sat in the crowded room conversing with the public under #9 in white and red and pink effecting “hearts” imagery with the shape of the numeral, before the picture window.

Jesus walked among the disciples that first Easter. They did not recognize him, and he elicited from them all the sad news. That was the sense of humor Jesus had.


By: Christopher Mulrooney

150 N. Catalina St., No. 2

Los Angeles, Calif. 90004


poems and translations in The Pacific Review, Janus Head, Brooklyn Review, Aesthetica, Frank, Poetry Salzburg Review, Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore, etc.

criticism in The Film Journal, Small Press Review, etc.

author of notebook and sheaves


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