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RICHARD BOWMAN: RADIANT ABSTRACTIONS is published by the Richard Bowman Estate in collaboration with Watts Art Publications, 2018. Essays by Patricia Watts and Stefanie De Winter Special thanks to Kimberly Bowman, James A. Bowman, William and Sue Bowman, Jerald and Carrie Bowman, Sarah Bowman, Matthew Bowman, Stefanie De Winter; Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, ME; Mark Melnicove, literary executor for Bern Porter; Lucid Art Foundation, Inverness; Fariba Bogzaran; Matt Gallup and Charles Murphy; Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Oakland Museum of California; Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco; Sonja Marck; Geri McGilvray; Michael Bechler; Paul Chapuis and Laura Metz; Celeste de Schulthess Marin. Publication design by Jasmine Moorhead Photography by Jason Bowman, Matt Murphy, Michael Bechler, Michael Rohde, Katherine Du Tiel (SFMOMA), Nick Pishvanov, and scanned from original slides at the Richard Bowman Estate. Second Revised Edition published 2021. Publication © 2018 Watts Art Publications and the Richard Bowman Estate. All artwork by Richard Bowman © 2018 Richard Bowman Estate, Redwood City, CA “Richard Bowman: Between a Rock and a Radiant Space.” © 2018 Patricia Watts “Glowing Colors As Metaphors For Light.” © 2018 Stefanie De Winter Front cover: Dynamorph 88 (detail). 1974. Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas, 54 x 54 inches. Richard Bowman Estate. See p. 80 for full image. Back cover: Plum Tree in October, 1999, Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas, 36 x 26 inches. Collection of Geri McGilvray, Palo Alto, CA.
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James A. Bowman
Richard Bowman was five years older than his brother Jerry, my father, and they couldn’t have taken more diverse paths. Born and raised in Northern Illinois, in Rockford, my father Jerry left for the war, then attended medical school to become a surgeon, later returning to his hometown, as many of his generation did in the 1950s. Richard, however, found his calling as an artist—attending the Art Institute of Chicago, then moving to Northern California, where he remained for the rest of his life. The artist’s story is presented here in order to share his legacy and art, to which he was so purely committed. My brothers and sister and I were always awed by our uncle Dick, the painter, and his wife, our Aunt Peg, the poet. They were like enigmas during our youth. They were far away in California living lives that were wildly different from ours in Illinois. When they visited, it was as if rock stars were arriving. As we grew older, we became the children that Dick and Peg never had, and they were the cherished relatives who made us so proud. The art that Dick and Peg produced in their lifetimes added a flavor to our lives that we cannot imagine being without. Every glance of every painting reminds us of the grace and eloquence of Peg and the dedication of Dick to his craft. Throughout Dick’s lifetime of ac-
Richard and Peggy Bowman, c. 1960.
complishments in the art world, his paintings have always brightened our homes and our lives and those of our extended families. We are grateful for Dick’s long life, which allowed a body of work that seems more precious every day. Dick Bowman’s journey is a unique artist’s story that is as impressive as it is inspiring.
Above, Figure 1: Erongaricuaro, Mexico, 1943. Watercolor. Collection of Sarah Bowman. Opposite, Figure 2: Richard Bowman painting in Mexico, 1943.
RICHARD BOWMAN: BETWEEN A ROCK AND A RADIANT SPACE
One of Northern California’s most radical painters left Chicago for San Francisco in 1949, stayed for one year, and then returned in 1954 for good. Richard Irving Bowman was born on March 15, 1918, in Rockford, Illinois, eight months before the end of the First World War, during the start of the global flu pandemic. His father, Irving, was a courthouse employee and his mother, Myrtle, a homemaker. Dick, as he was known to his family and friends, was one
of three children: he was the first, then Bill, then Jerry. As a boy he fished, hunted, played baseball and golf. His childhood neighbor, Ed Carlson, was a Sunday painter whom Bowman respected. Carlson took him to local art exhibitions at the Harry and Della Burpee Art Gallery in Rockford. After graduating from high school, he worked in local factories as a mail clerk and multigrapher, saving his earnings to attend the Art Institute of Chicago.
In 1938 Bowman’s dream came true, and he moved to Chicago. During his first year, he lived on Chicago’s Southside at the Artists Community House, along with ten other students and WPA artists. He took painting classes with celebrated Chicago painter Francis Chapin, who was called the “Dean of Chicago Painters” by his colleagues and who had attended the Chicago Art Institute himself. Chapin felt that staying in Chicago allowed him the freedom to not conform to the prevailing styles propagated by New York. Bowman not only respected Chapin’s individuality but also was inspired by his use of vibrant colors, especially yellow (fig. 3).
Figure 3: Francis Chapin. Town View, n.d. Watercolor, 181/2 x 27 in.
By his second year at the Art Institute, Bowman had moved to a basement apartment that he shared with fellow student George Kachergis. Money was difficult to come by during the Great Depression, so Bowman worked on campus for the Student Janitor Force until his graduation. The Force even had its own annual exhibition, in which Bowman participated in 1939 and 1941. Bowman also met Emerson Woelffer, a Chicago native who took classes at the Chicago Art Institute and who was a Chicago WPA artist in 1938. Their friendship would last their lifetimes. Upon graduation in June 1942 with a degree in
drawing and painting, Bowman was awarded one of four Edward L. Ryerson Traveling Fellowships—the Institute’s most prestigious prize. Plans to travel to Europe, however, were curtailed by World War II. He tried to enlist for the war but was rejected when his physical revealed a duodenal ulcer. Instead, in January 1943 he left for Mexico City and Acapulco. In June he traveled to the remote village of Erongarícuaro, in the State of Michoacán, where the nearby Parícutin Volcano had spontaneously arisen in February. Its surging cone and expanding lava field made headlines around the world.1 Erongarícuaro was the home of former fellow student and painter William Fett. Fett and his wife, Carmen, offered him a place to stay and introduced him to British painter Gordon Onslow Ford and his wife, Jacqueline Johnson, who lived nearby, at Lake Pátzcuaro. Two years earlier, Onslow Ford and Johnson had left New York for Mexico. Their home, called “El Molino,” became a destination for Parisian Surrealists who had fled war-torn Europe. Roberto Matta, Wolfgang Paalen, Alice Rahon, and others were visitors. They invited Bowman to their three-story complex, formerly a mill, and offered him a room to use as a day studio. Honored, he accepted with gratitude. Thus began an unshakable mentorship and friendship. In this region, still suffused by the myths and traditions of the ancient Tarascan civilization, Bowman found himself enthralled by the geologic landscape on the Central Mexican Plateau, with its stark volcanic mountains and crystalline light. In July he painted a casein watercolor landscape featuring rugged peaks of mountains at sunset, as viewed from the shore of Lake Pátzcuaro facing west (fig. 1). The following day he painted Rock Formation in Sunlight (p. 24), the first work in oil paint of
his Rock and Sun series—a breakthrough for Bowman. He became consumed with finding a way to visually express the relationship between earth and the cosmos. Bowman remembered, “The idea evolved very slowly over the next month or so about the opposing forces of energy, i.e., the locked, overt energy in matter, and the overt, free energy of the sun. . . . I was beginning to perceive physical reality in terms of these tremendous atomic forces, a sort of interpenetration of energy and matter.”2
Daniel Catton Rich, the director of the Art Institute of Chicago, began to show interest in Bowman’s work, and in February 1944 the artist took six of his paintings to New York, along with letters of recommendation from both Rich and Onslow Ford. He met with Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, who invited him to lunch in their home. He also visited Fernand Léger at his studio and met with Rose Fried at Pinacotheca Gallery on Fifty-Eighth Street, who offered him a solo exhibition.
During this time in Mexico in 1943, he produced a dozen paintings before being summoned to return to the family home. In November he received a telegram from his father informing him that his brother Bill, serving in the Navy, was missing in action in the South Pacific. Bowman would not return to Mexico until the summer of 1946.
In March 1945 Rich wrote an introduction for a distinctive booklet that accompanied Bowman’s solo exhibition at Pinacotheca, which comprised sixteen Rock and Sun paintings. In describing the series, Rich stated, “A chain of mountains becomes the rock against which the sun as light plays its counterpoint. Motion streaks and circles across the forms, opposing path ways in air to the rocks’ massiveness.” A review of the show in Art News, while concise, was complimentary, calling the works “powerful abstractions, of the strength and might in things elemental.”4 Bowman, who had hoped for a more decisive success, decided not to put further energy toward showing in New York. He did, however, notice that his show at Pinacotheca drew attention in Chicago.
“To the human eye and brain, the rock appears to be one of the most stable of objects. But is it? Is it not here and now in an atomic state? Therein we may say that it is kinetic at the same time that it is stable.” —Richard Bowman 3 In Illinois Bowman moved back into his basement apartment and continued working on his Rock and Sun series. From 1944 to 1947, he taught evening classes in Chicago at the Art Institute and a class at North Park College, as well as two summer sessions at the Ox-Bow School in Saugatuck, Michigan. During this time, Bowman fell in love with a young student at the Art Institute, Joan Mitchell. He made drawings of her at Saugatuck in July 1944. The two shared a love of the luminous paintings of Post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard.
In September of that year, he and Russell Woeltz had a two-person show at the Art Institute, in which Bowman presented eight Rock and Sun paintings, including Rock Formation in Sunlight and Rock in Dynamic Space. In a Chicago Sun review, critic Frank Holland declared, “Richard Bowman is certainly one of our most promising young painters.” The Art Institute awarded Bowman the William R. French Memorial Gold Medal for his painting Rock and Fragment, exhibited at the Institute in the Fifty-Sixth Annual American Exhibition of Paintings (1945–46). It was an exciting time for the young artist.
In January 1947 Bowman had a two-person show with Joan Mitchell, sponsored by the Rockford Art Association. The exhibit was shown first at Rockford’s Burpee Art Gallery; in March it traveled to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Eleven paintings by Mitchell and eight Rock and Sun paintings by Bowman were included. In a review of the exhibition, Bowman is quoted speaking about his paintings, “[They] express the interrelation of dynamic tension, monumentality, conflicting forces, precariousness of the times, kinetic stability, metamorphosis, and despair of decadence.”5 Although Bowman had been committed to Mitchell (see fig. 4), they had struggled to maintain the relationship, which had ended the previous year. In the fall of 1946, he began to date Peggy Polivka, a student from Chicago’s North Park College who was friends with several artists at the Institute and was acquainted with Mitchell through poetry circles.
Figure 4: Portrait of Joan Mitchell, 1945. Oil on canvas, 54 x 35 in. Richard Bowman Estate.
In the summer of 1946, the artist returned to Mexico and learned to speak fluent Spanish. He stayed briefly with Onslow Ford, where he picked up an American Scholar magazine containing an article by historian Lester Longman. At that time, Longman was the head of the art department at State University of Iowa (he was later chairman of UCLA’s art department for almost thirty years). Bowman was inspired by the article and later wrote to Longman asking for a graduate assistant position, as he realized that he would need to make a living in order to continue his creative work.
In May 1947 Bowman married Polivka in Chicago, and in September they moved to Iowa City, where Bowman entered the master of fine arts program and his wife pursued undergraduate studies in English and Creative Writing at the State University of Iowa. He then began his assistantship with Longman while also teaching frame making, and he later assisted in printmaking. In his autobiography, the artist wrote, “The atmosphere of post–World War II education institutions was electric!”6 This was primarily due to the influx of European artists who taught at American art schools in the 1940s. Bowman also assisted another expatriate artist, Mauricio Lasansky, a Jewish immigrant from Argentina who was a printmaking instructor there at the time and was later acknowledged as one of the founders of modern printmaking. In November 1947 Bowman’s painting Decadent Machine was included in the exhibition Abstract
and Surrealist American Art, Fifty-Eighth Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago.7 Organized by Rich, the large exhibition was considered the first American exhibition of this type, curated by staff assistants Frederick Sweet and Katherine Kuh, who drove thousands of miles around the United States to select the work. Other prominent artists included Josef Albers, Kurt Seligmann, Herbert Bayer, Emil Bisttram, Jackson Pollock, Stuart Davis, Max Ernst, Claire Falkenstein, Oskar Fischinger, Raymond Jonson, Helen Lundeberg, Stanton MacdonaldWright, Roberto Matta, Robert McChesney, Georgia O’Keeffe, Richard Pousette-Dart, Mark Rothko, Stanley Hayter, Kay Sage, Clyfford Still, Yves Tanguy, and Emerson Woelffer.
with. Porter and Bowman quickly became friends. Porter was intrigued with Bowman’s concept of energy in the landscape, derived from the artist’s sojourns in Mexico, where Porter had also spent time. He was also fascinated by Bowman’s interpretation of atomic phenomena in his paintings.9 In 1949, soon after they met, Porter gave Bowman his first California “one-man show” at the Contemporary Gallery in Sausalito, a gallery that he owned and operated from 1947 to 1950 (fig. 5). In September Bowman began a temporary teaching position at Stanford University through the help of James Lechay, a former instructor in Iowa. In February 1950 Bowman and his wife moved to Palo Alto to eliminate his two-
Although Bowman’s instructors did not show support for his Rock and Sun series—it was not their style—he nevertheless earned his MFA in Painting from State University of Iowa in 1949. His wife, Peggy, also graduated, earning a BA in Writing. Gordon Onslow Ford and his wife, Johnson, who had moved from Mexico to San Francisco in 1947, wrote the Bowmans urging them to come out to California and stay with them to check out the area. After graduation, the young couple crated all of the Rock and Sun paintings, packed their suitcases, and boarded a Greyhound bus to San Francisco, arriving on July 4.8 Onslow Ford introduced Bowman to Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko. It was his introduction to Bernard “Bern” Porter, a publisher of the first books by Henry Miller and Kenneth Patchen, however, that would prove to be a lasting friendship. Porter had worked for the U.S. Government as a nuclear physicist on atomic projects from 1939 until 1945, unwittingly helping produce the atomic bomb—an effort he found almost impossible to reconcile himself
Figure 5: Bern Porter’s Contemporary Gallery, Sausalito, c. 1949. Courtesy Colby College Speical Collections, Waterville, ME, and Mark Melnicove, Bern Porter literary executor.
day-a-week bus commute from San Francisco. Bowman was given a studio on campus in “Woodpecker Hall,” an old building riddled with holes. Shortly thereafter he bought his first jars of daylight fluorescent lacquer paints10 at the Skylight Art Supply Store, which was owned by his landlady, Doris Smith. He then coined the word Kinetograph to describe his new series of paintings—which would explore “dynamic flow of lines and colors, atomic and subatomic structures, trackings, cosmic rays, and nuclear particles”—and embarked on his series of energetic abstractions, beginning with a few lithographs.11
“My own work, for the past six years, has been chiefly concerned with the symbolic use of two elements—The Rock and The Sun, and their relationship to one another. . . The Rock, as a symbol of matter and monumentality, is in constant dynamic relation to the Sun, the symbol of light and energy. . . .I use these basic symbols to express not only the dynamic physical aspects of contemporary world but the social world as well.” —Richard Bowman, January 1950 13
In the spring of 1950, while working on the new series, Bowman presented a solo show at the Stanford Art Gallery, his first official exhibition at an academic institution in California. He created a highly evocative installation (fig. 6) of his Rock and Sun series taking his cue from the 1942 First Papers of Surrealism show in New York, which featured Marcel Duchamp’s famous “mile of string” installation, for which Duchamp threaded the entire exhibition space with crisscrossing twine, binding together more than thirty artists’ avant-garde works.12
In 1948, the year before the Bowmans came to San Francisco, Onslow Ford formally confirmed his departure from Surrealism with a solo exhibition titled Towards a New Subject in Painting at the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMA, now SFMOMA). Shortly thereafter, Onslow Ford presented the expansive 1951 Dynaton exhibition, a three-person show with former fellow surrealist Wolfgang Paalen and a young, unknown painter at the time, Lee Mullican, who came together to launch a new movement. All three artists then spun out into their own worlds in different cities to paint in new styles. Bowman’s yearlong appointment at Stanford likewise proved to be a pivotal moment. His new work, which was initially similar to the broken-line paintings of the Dynaton group, would eventually become decidedly different from paintings by Onslow Ford, which had greatly influenced the younger artist up until then. Instead of employing an automatic, unconscious approach—what Onslow Ford referred to as painting his “Inner Worlds”— Bowman anticipated and illuminated scientific research. In 1950 he also began augmenting his paintings with touches of daylight fluorescent pigments. Bowman thought of himself as one of the first artists to use these pigments.14
However, unlike Duchamp, whose installation impeded the viewing of individual works, Bowman lightly strung together with twine an inviting installation including paintings suspended in air, one central painting positioned on a pile of gray rocks on the floor, and several paintings at different heights on the walls. This three-dimensional display of the Surrealism-inspired Rock and Sun series was a powerful culmination of the artist’s direction first conceived in Mexico. The installation expressed his foundational concept of the atomic interpenetration of matter and energy and was, in effect, a farewell to this stylistic period in Bowman’s oeuvre.
Figure 6: Richard Bowman solo exhibition, Stanford Art Gallery, 1950, featuring his Rock and Sun series and a unique exhibition installation, which he designed. (Image from lantern slide, colors faded and inaccurate.)
Over the summer of 1950, Bowman became highly influenced by scientific imaging of phenomena and was captivated by recent space exploration identifying asteroids, as well as advances in the understanding of atomic and subatomic structures. He painted Kinetograph 5, a five-by-eleven-foot painting, by far his largest work at that time (pp. 42–43). Presented in two contiguous canvases, the work depicts a dynamic flow of elongated horizontal yellow lines that ripple like beams of cosmic rays from the sun penetrating elemental structures. The central object suggests a boat flowing in a stream of
sunlight, entering a portal that leads to another world or galaxy. Within the boatlike structure, there are microscopic sections with glowing fluorescent atoms. Around the same time, Bowman received a letter from an artist colleague in Iowa, William McCloy, asking him if he would like to join two other graduates from Iowa, John Kacere and Robert Gadbois, to start an art department for the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. He had no other job prospects for the fall, so the Bowmans picked up and moved to Canada.
“I prefer to be concerned with the positive abstractions of twentieth century science; or, as it were, the new reality discovery by science—the atomic and sub atomic of all things.” —Richard Bowman, December 1951 15 The Winnipeg School of Art had merged with the University of Manitoba (UM) to become the university’s School of Art, offering the first BFA degree in western Canada. There Bowman inspired the first graduating class of young artists with Surrealism-inspired abstractions and encouraged the experimental use of fluorescent paint. In Winnipeg Bowman continued his Kinetograph series, and in December 1951 he was included in a group exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, a show that received scathing criticism. A review titled “Varsity Art Shock— A Morbid Hoax?” stated that the modern art displayed incited anger, disgust, and confusion among a majority of the gallery visitors, including Bowman’s students. Bowman is quoted in the review, “My work is based on scientific fact. It is realism seen through the laboratory microscope and translated into artistic terms of color, movement, and form.” He added, “Anything new and not understood naturally creates in the observer a feeling of frustration, guilt and fear.”16 In 1952 Bowman began a new series titled Micromacrocosmos, using images taken with a scanning electron microscope to reveal structural similarities on a cellular level to the world around us.17 He also sourced imagery from outer space. These paintings are void of any clearly identifiable shapes or solid forms and have the soft appearance of out-of-focus fields of color punctuated with small dots of fluorescent paint. In May 1952 Bowman was awarded a Modern Painting Prize at the Sixty-Ninth Spring Salon exhibition of the Montreal Museum of Fine
Arts for Kinetograph 20, an oil and fluorescent lacquer painting.18 In 1953 he received a letter from the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa informing him that his two paintings Kinetograph 20 and Kinetograph 29 were to be included in the São Paulo Biennial. The exhibition ran from December 1953 until February 1954, then traveled to Caracas, Venezuela, and the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.19 While in Canada, Bowman ran out of the fluorescent lacquer paints.20 Even so, many of his favorite paintings were made during his four years in Winnipeg. At that time, he was also inspired by published cloud-chamber photographs made by physicists, which revealed tracks of cosmic rays and nuclear particles21 (see Untitled,1953, p. 50). After his fourth-year students had their convocation, in 1954 he and Peggy returned to California, relocating to a carriage house in Palo Alto that their former landlady had purchased. She discounted the rent in exchange for their help with renovations. Bowman and his wife then became close friends with poet and novelist Kenneth Patchen and his wife, Miriam, and participated in the development of jazz poetry. The following year, John LaPlante of the Stanford Art Gallery gave Bowman a retrospective exhibition, which opened on January 31, 1956.22 For the Stanford retrospective, Bowman’s second solo show at this venue, he collaborated with Bern Porter to design an accompanying booklet titled Kinetic . . . A commentary on the relationship of Art and SCIENCE. The booklet included a scientific illustration of cosmic ray showers and a photomicrograph of radium created by a tiny speck of the element placed on a photographic plate, as well as images of rat fibrocyte and guinea pig lung. The exhibition consisted of thirteen paintings dating from 1943 to 1955, among them eight works from the
Rock and Sun series, including Rock in Motion (p. 27); two Kinetograph paintings, numbers 20 and 17; a Micromacrocosmos painting, number 2, juxtaposed in the booklet with a photograph of the West Coast taken from a camera carried by a sounding rocket soaring two hundred miles above; and two other works, Spring and Elements of Big Sur. In the foreword, Porter wrote, “While I combine science with art, architecture, and literature (sciart, sciarch, scilit), Bowman has in the tradition of art’s great predecessors anticipated certain areas of these conceptions and devised other scientific forms, exploring unknowingly many more yet to be realized by physicists.” Porter confirmed that Bowman’s paintings anticipated scientific imaging.23
for his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957. Bowman brought his painting Kinetogenics 1 (fig. 7). Upon viewing the work—to Bowman’s delight—Matta exclaimed, “formidable” in a French accent.26 Things begin to move very quickly for Bowman after this meeting. Onslow Ford arranged visits to Bowman’s studio in Palo Alto, including one by Rose Rabow, who eventually took on Bowman at San Francisco’s Rabow Galleries, in 1959. Rabow and her husband, Alexandre Rabow, had attended the 1951 Dynaton exhibition at the SFMA and began exhibiting Lee Mullican, Onslow Ford, Fred Reichman, and Fritz Rauh, all of whom were friends of Bowman. It was natural that Bowman would join with Rabow.
In July 1956, after the Stanford exhibition, Bowman painted the first work in his Kinetogenics paintings, a series title that referred to “energy-generating forms.”24 For this series, he started using fluorescent enamel alkyd paint, which, Bowman stated, emitted an actual, measurable energy from the canvas.25 He combined his early concept of elemental radiants with the gestures of a mature Abstract Expressionist. Incorporating bold fluorescent strokes of orange, yellow, and blue, which are activated by the ultraviolet in daylight, Bowman’s new abstractions represented a synthesis of the physical and sensorial transmissions of energy. The combination of the artist’s interests in nuclear physics, atoms, and dynamism with these vibrant colors reflected Bowman’s increasing confidence as an unconventional artist working in an unconventional medium. Onslow Ford and Johnson had moved from San Francisco to Mill Valley in 1956, where they hosted Roberto Matta and his wife, Malitte, for a six-month visit beginning in July. Bowman was invited to come meet Matta, who lived in Rome and came to the States in preparation
Figure 7: Kinetogenics 1, 1956. Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas, 70 x 52 inches. Private collection.
In 1957 Rabow introduced Bowman to Amalia Schulthess, the Swiss painter turned sculptor who grew up knowing Paul Klee as a family friend. She and her husband, Hans, offered Bowman a quarterly stipend from 1960 to 1965 in exchange for two to four paintings each year. The 1950s closed on a high note for Bowman, with invitations to participate in shows that traveled internationally. Bowman felt the tides changing, and in 1959 he and Peggy purchased a home in Emerald Hills, an oak woodland preserve within the city limits of Redwood City. The same year, Onslow Ford and Bowman had a two-man show at SFMA in the War Memorial Building at the Civic Center. Onslow Ford showed black and white paintings, and Bowman showed works from his Kinetogenics series. The exhibition, with its dramatic contrast between the two artists, was reviewed by critic Arthur Bloomfield, who stated, “Both men are of top international caliber.” A San Francisco Weekly review of the same show said about Bowman, “He does not paint what the eye can see of natural forms as stable objects, but of dynamic entities in time. Thus immediacy as expressed here is not primarily in the style of painting, but in revealing what we can sense of energy in the world around us.”27 In 1960 Bowman was included in a group show at Rose Rabow Galleries with Julius Wasserstein, Fred Reichman, and Onslow Ford. In “Four Bring Their Art to New Perfection,” reviewer Dean Wallace wrote, “Bowman, who used to be an enigma to me, finally begins to make perfect sense.”28 A year later Bowman completed construction on a large studio adjacent to their new home in Emerald Hills and started painting a series that he called Environs. These paintings were based upon naturally occurring fluorescent phenomena in the vicinity of his home and studio, including grasses, tree
leaves, and the petals of poppies and nasturtiums.29 They are the first of Bowman’s works to represent abstracted landscapes. In early 1961, George D. Culler, then director of SFMA, invited Bowman to have a solo show titled Richard Bowman: Paintings and Reflections, 1943–1961, accompanied by his first museum catalogue. Culler, who had studied painting, came to San Francisco from the Art Institute of Chicago and possibly knew of Bowman as a former student. Nineteen paintings were shown from the following series: four from Rock and Sun, one Kinetograph, one Micromacrocosmos, and thirteen Kinetogenics. In a review of the exhibition, Alfred Frankenstein of the San Francisco Chronicle called Bowman’s work an “intensely lyrical kind of neo-impressionism.” Bowman responded to this stylistic label with emphatic exclamation marks written on a newspaper clipping.30 Another San Francisco art critic, Dean Wallace, dove deeper into the heart of Bowman’s interest in the atomic, stating, “As a whole, Bowman’s art is a devastating answer to the critics of the avant-garde who complain that the modernists are no longer concerned with reality. The things that Bowman has been putting on canvas for the past 18 years are entirely too real. They are the things that are about to blow us all to smithereens.”31 Because this was Bowman’s San Francisco solo debut, his involvement in the catalogue design and content was paramount to him. He invited Onslow Ford to contribute an introduction, and he wrote an artist statement as well as acknowledged friends and mentors. The frontispiece was a unique offset “colorprint,” considered the first reproduction with fluoresecent pigments produced by California Ink Company in consultation with Radiant Color Corporation.32 The exhibition was the first in a
series of solo shows presented by the museum in the Veterans Building.
“Artists do not consult definitions to learn how they should paint; they make, by the successful assertion of their vision, the laws relating to their work. Richard Bowman has consistently and seriously made his position clear. This is what we can ask of an artist in his own time.” —George D. Culler, SFMA catalogue Later that year, three Bowman paintings were included in the 1961 Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture, on view at the Fine Arts Gallery, Carnegie Institute, from October 1961 to January 1962. A large reproduction of Kinetogenics 43 (1960) was featured in the Sunday Magazine of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.33 In 1962 two paintings—Kinetogenics 42 and 57—were included in the seminal exhibition Fifty California Artists, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In his New York Times review, titled “Visitors from the West,” John Canaday noted some “pleasant surprises,” including “Richard Bowman, who might achieve the impossible by applying fluorescent paint toward esthetically pleasing ends.”34 Organized by SFMA under the direction of Culler, the exhibition traveled to the Walker Art Center, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the Des Moines Art Center through 1963. In 1961 Culler included Bowman in Painting from the Pacific, an exhibition including artists from four continents that was presented at the Auckland City Art Gallery in New Zealand; in the American catalogue introduction, Culler concluded, “And, finally, there are a number
of artists who, although they do not constitute a school, seem to share a concern to develop, each for themselves, an intensely personal way of translating their experiences with the natural world into a visual order. Richard Bowman, Art Holman, David Simpson and Gordon Onslow Ford may well represent the beginning of something quite unique to come from Northern California.” In the extensive review of the exhibition in Auckland’s The Press, Bowman’s painting Kinetogenics 15 was singled out as “performing the astonishing tour de force of using fluorescent paint so that it is beautiful as well as brilliant.”35 In 1965 Bowman began using acrylic fluorescent paint made by Politec in San Francisco. The fluorescent lacquers he started using in 1950 were difficult to spread, and the fluorescent oil paint that he started using in 1956 had a tendency to crack. The acrylics had the advantage of drying more quickly than oils.36 Using the new paint, Bowman started his Synthesis series. It is reminiscent of the Rock and Sun Series, except for the use of fluorescent pigments and symbolic forms, such as a horizontal bar representing Earth as a rock, and use of collage37 (see Synthesis 12, 1966, p. 73). In 1966 he began his Dynamorph series—a title composed of the Greek dyna, meaning “power,” and morph, referring to form. The Dynamorphs continued the form and concept of the Kinetogenics paintings, although they were more focused on the structure of matter. The images appear to be magnified, giving viewers the sense that they are looking into “the forming of galaxies from a kind of spatial chaos”38 (see fig. 8). Gerald Nordland, director of SFMA from 1966 to 1972, invited Bowman to exhibit seven of the Dynamorphs in the 1970 exhibition Richard Bowman: Paintings from 1966–1970. Thomas Albright, a critic known for his stubborn integ-
Figure 8: Dynamorph 34, 1969. Fluorescent acrylic on canvas, 48 x 41 in. Richard Bowman Estate.
rity, stated in a review: “A small show of paintings by Richard Bowman has sneaked almost unnoticed into the San Francisco Museum of Art, but it deserves notice of a very special kind because Bowman is one of the Bay Region’s most doggedly individual artists and the show provides a brilliant cross-section of his recent work.” Describing the work, Albright wrote:
“The earliest painting takes off from the tradition of gestural abstract expressionism, an explosive swirl of ribbons, streaks and calligraphs of color that seem to converge from various points outside the canvas, to coalesce and vortice near its center. In the most recent painting, a square and circle form almost negative images floating in nimbuses of sprayed oranges, reds and pinks that diffuse into pale green and white fields. These, and all the paintings in between, show that Bowman is one of the rare painters who can use daring combinations of fluorescent acrylics without being vulgar, who can skirt the fringes of decoration without being decorative, and who can create total abstractions without losing a feel of nature and natural forces.” 39 In 1972 Bowman was offered a Gift of Time Grant, a one-year residency at Roswell Museum and Art Center in New Mexico, along with his largest retrospective, Richard Bowman: Paintings, 1943–1972, which included one painting from each of those years. Yet Bowman stayed only three months, noting that the dryness of the desert was uncomfortable. The exhibition traveled to the Museum of Texas Tech University and finished in the fall in Menlo Park, at the Sacred Heart Convent gallery near his home. In a booklet that accompanied the show, Nordland wrote about Bowman’s oeuvre, “Each series shares a common concern for the expression of vitality in natural phenomena, the unity of microscopic and astronomic nature. All of them develop out of and reflect the artist’s concentra-
tion on the awesome intensity of the sun image and its immeasurable energy output, a concern as old as mankind.”40 The Palo Alto Times printed large reproductions of his paintings and gave glowing reviews. Bowman’s work was now esteemed in his own community.41 When Henry Hopkins was appointed director of SFMA in late 1973, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article on the newcomer quoting Hopkins, who stated that he would be focusing on local artists. Bowman wrote on the newspaper cutout in his scrapbook, “I hope so.”42 However, two years later, Hopkins did not invite Bowman to participate in Painting and Sculpture in California, a large survey exhibition of Northern and Southern California artists. The show documented the creative efforts of California artists over a seventy-year period, including 300 works by almost 200 artists, while “still remaining highly selective.” The exhibition brochure is included in Bowman’s scrapbook along with a handwritten list of artists including J. B. Blunk, Fred Reichman, Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, Roy De Forest, Tom Holland, Robert Arneson, Manuel Neri, Nathan Oliveira, Joan Brown, Ruth Asawa, and more.42 It must have been painful for Bowman to have been excluded—only four years after his third and final solo exhibition at SFMA. Bowman continuously exhibited—approximately every eighteen months—at Rose Rabow Galleries from 1959 until 1977, when it closed. In early 1978 he stopped dividing his paintings into series and instead gave them titles, as he had done occasionally since the beginning of his career. By that time, he had finished over one hundred Dynamorph works. Also in 1978, he was invited to participate in a group exhibition titled Creation at Galerie Schreiner in Basel, Switzerland, along with Gordon Onslow Ford, John Anderson, Ruth Asawa, J. B. Blunk,
Roberto Matta, Lee Mullican, Wolfgang Paalen, Fritz Rauh, Yves Tanguy, and others. This was Bowman’s first and only show in Europe. He did not have exclusive representation in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I think of my paintings as links in a long chain.”—Richard Bowman 43 In 1986 Richard Bowman: Forty Years of Abstract Painting, his fourth and final retrospective, opened at Harcourts Modern and Contemporary Art gallery in San Francisco. Harold Allen Parker, an attorney and collector of Bowman’s work, published a retrospective volume in conjunction with the show; it included an essay by K. R. Eagles-Smith, who wrote, “Richard Bowman has always seen the role of the artist as a Promethean figure, that is, a maker of power objects for man’s higher understanding. His heroes have been men like Kenneth Patchen, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and Walt Whitman, lone inventors in the history of American arts.”44 The exhibitions’s twenty-four paintings included Kinetograph 5 (1950, pp. 42–43), Nucleus (1956, p. 55), Kinetogenics 1 (1956, see fig. 7), Kinetogenics 9 (1957, p. 57), and Kinetogenics 38 (1960, p. 37 and p. 59). The following year, Bowman was among the fifteen artists who participated in Visions of Inner Space: The Action Mark in Contemporary Painting at UCLA’s Wight Gallery. Co-curated by Lee Mullican and Merle Schipper, the show traveled the following year to the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, India.45 Harcourts invited Bowman back in 1990 for a two-person show, titled Independent Abstraction, with his longtime friend from Chicago, Los Angeles artist Emerson Woelffer.46 Bowman was captivated early by discoveries
in atomic physics beginning in the late 1940s, and he followed newspapers and popular magazines, as well as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists through the years. Even though he had no formal training in physics, he gleaned significant imagery from this research. He kept a folder of scientific clippings with titles such as “The Biggest Objects in the Universe,” “SPACE,” “Laser Light in Scientific American,” “Black Holes,” “Electron Microscope,” “The Theory of Evolution Revisited,” “Invisible Stars,” and “Galaxy Core.” Understanding how the world works, scientifically, was Bowman’s path to a spiritual connection with the cosmos. The artist also kept scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings of exhibition reviews and essays by critics about the current focus of the artworld. The articles covered various subjects, such as teaching art, new genres of conceptual art, and pop art. He clipped a notorious 1974 article from Art in America titled “Why Suck the Mainstream if You Don’t Live in New York,” by Walter Gabrielson, sentiments reminiscent of Bowman’s mentor Francis Chapin at the Chicago Art Institute. Bowman wrote in the margins of the clipping that he was rejected by Martha Jackson Gallery (1954–1964) because his work did not fit the mainstream. Gabrielson posed the question “Why does all art have to be the same?” and he asserted that regionalism offered a broader conversation than the mainstream. Bowman also saved an essay titled “The Integrity of the Artist Today: Integrity-vs-Being ‘With It’” and another, “A Reflection: What Art Is and Is Not” by George Rickey, both from 1969.47 These writings reflect Bowman’s desire for art to be of a particular kind, and reinforce his opinions about the way artists should conduct themselves—views possibly derived from his Midwestern art school training, which he held sacred.
Bowman was a man of contradictions. He wanted acknowledgment for his paintings but shunned other artists who received what he thought was too much attention. He deplored artists who were chasing the current fashion and often cut out articles and highlighted phrases and ideas that supported his aversion to pop art and gimmickry. He saved newspaper articles with titles such as “Art at the End of Its Tether” and “Impossible Art.” He was confounded by conceptual art and took offense at Claes Oldenburg’s Burial Monument, which consisted of a hole dug in the ground in Central Park. Closer to home, Bowman had an aversion to the academicization of Abstract Expressionism, although he was a fan of Frank Lobdell’s work. In 1997 Bowman was invited by Fariba Bogzaran to participate in the exhibition Through the Light: An Exploration into Consciousness at the Arts and Consciousness Gallery at John F. Kennedy University, Berkeley. Bogzaran placed Bowman’s paintings at the entrance because she felt they transformed the energy of the viewers before they went on to experience works by John Anderson, Lee Mullican, and Gordon Onslow Ford.48 The following year, Bowman participated in a memorial exhibition for Mullican at the Herbert Palmer Gallery in Los Angeles. In 2000, Bowman had one final solo exhibition at San Francisco’s Steven Wolf Fine Arts before he died in 2001. In a visit to the Bowman Estate in 2017, Wolf said that the artist was going blind at the end of his life, but that he could still paint with confidence. In 2007 he was remembered in a retrospective of artists represented by Rose Rabow at The 8 Gallery in San Francisco.49 And in 2008, seven years after Bowman died, Bogzaran included his work in the exhibition Landscapes of Consciousness: A Circle of Artists at the Beginning of Lucid Art at Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco. The
Figure 9: Richard Bowman, c. 1980
show included Gordon Onslow Ford, Fritz Rauh, John Anderson, Richard Bowman, and Jack Wright and was accompanied by a brochure with an essay by Bogzaran. At the opening, Peggy Bowman was acknowledged as a graceful and eloquent partner who softened the artist’s strong opinions. Although Bowman did not participate in the Beat Generation, he did have a bohemian side. An amateur musician, he “enjoyed jazz in all its mutations, and he played guitar or drums when occasion permitted.” 50 As previously mentioned, Bowman assisted in the development of jazz poetry in the 1950s; he introduced his friends Kenneth Patchen and Allyn Ferguson to one another, and they made two albums together on the Chamber Jazz Sextet label.51 In 1960, he was invited to participate in a collaborative session in Inverness organized by the David Cole Gallery, where he and artists Ruth Asawa, John Baxter, Nankoku Hidai, Onslow Ford, Fritz Rauh, David Simpson, and Jean Varda created an artwork together, each contributing to a roll of paper 50-feet long by 3-feet wide.52
Over the years, Bowman challenged the voices of art critics, exhibition jurors, and arts institutions by writing responses critiquing the critics and other professionals. This possibly arose from his reaction to the severe public criticism he was subjected to while developing a new art department in Winnipeg. He wanted to be in dialogue with the Bay Area art tastemakers, to introduce a new subject matter in abstract painting. Instead, he would often offend them with his strong opinions. Bowman did, however, have a circle of faithful friends, including Gordon Onslow Ford, Emerson Woellfer, Fred Reichman, and Fritz Rauh. He also remained friends with Walter Kamys, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago who later taught at UMASS Amherst, and William McCloy from Winnipeg, who was the Chair of the Art Department at Connecticut College. His friendship with Patchen was cut short in 1972, when the poet passed away. He was also a close friend of his collectors Gertie and Harold Parker and Amalia and Hans Schulthess. Gerald Nordland, who often refers to Bowman as an important figure associated with Onslow Ford and Lee Mullican, has stated, “He was a loyal friend to many.”53
“There is no greater ostracism than that of an incorruptible artist from a corrupt art world.” —Richard Bowman, September 1965 54 Bowman never had a job with medical or retirement benefits in his lifetime. He and Peggy never went to Europe, although they did travel to Mexico twice, once in 1951 and again in 1984. They also went to New York twice, visiting with William McCloy in 1964, and on a second trip in the 1980s, they visited with collectors Robert and Edith Anthoine. In his autobiography, Bowman revealed that through the 1970s, Peggy brought in most of
their income, through modeling, secretarial work, and other jobs. For his part, Bowman received a monthly stipend from an inherited investment throughout both of their lives. Bowman taught evening painting classes at the Palo Alto Art League through the 1950s and also taught at the Sequoia Adult School in Redwood City. It is estimated that he made approximately five hundred works in his lifetime and sold almost half of them before he died.
“If our eyes were able to see into the ultra-violet, they would see a ghostly landscape of fluorescence.” —Jacob Bronowski 55 Bowman’s art school infatuation with the French colorist’s Pierre Bonnard’s light effects proved to be the foundation for his prophetic interest in the invisible powers of the physical world, nature’s energy. His signature fluorescent paintings can be likened to rainbows, which refract white light into spectra of luminous colors that can only be seen from certain positions. With Bowman’s paintings, depending on where you stand and on the lighting conditions, ultraviolet light will activate the fluorescent paint in different ways. The viewer’s experience is therefore variable and transcends what we know to be “real.” Bowman’s paintings remind us that energy radiates and absorbs in the radiant space where we all live. NOTES: Many details about Bowman’s life were found in his thirteen-page autobiography, written in June 1986, part of the Richard Bowman Estate Archive, Redwood City, California. An edited version of the autobiography was published in Richard Bowman: Forty Years of Abstract Painting, edited by K. R. Eagles-Smith (San Francisco: Harcourts Modern and Contemporary, 1986). 1. Newsreel film of the 1943 eruption of Volcán de Parícutin, Michoacán, Mexico, shows the volcano surging
suddenly from the cornfield of a local farmer, an event that attracted international attention. This was the first occasion when scientists could document the full life cycle of an eruption of this type. Periscope Film LLC archive, https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2r7RTQ6SNk. 2. Richard Bowman: Forty Years of Abstract Painting, p. 11. 3. Richard Bowman, “Paintings with Fluorescent Pigments of the Microcosm and Macrocosm,” Leonardo 6, no. 4 (Autumn 1973), p. 290. Bowman formed his rudimentary concept in January 1944, as he stated in his “Work and Concept” manuscript, p. 19 (Bowman Estate Archive). It was typed in 1982 and submitted to K. R. Eagles-Smith as background for his essay “Richard Bowman: His Work and Concept,” in Eagles-Smith, Richard Bowman: Forty Years of Abstract Painting. 4. Pinacotheca Gallery brochure and Art News, March 15, 1945, from the Bowman Estate Archive. 5. “Joan Mitchell, Richard Bowman Open Two-Man Show Tomorrow at Art Association Meeting,” Rockford Morning Star, January 1947. The article consisted of interviews with the artists in the Burpee Art Gallery exhibition, which traveled to the University of Illinois in March 1947. 6. Bowman, autobiography, p. 7. 7. Abstract and Surrealist American Art, Fifty-Eighth Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1947), http://www.artic. edu/sites/default/files/libraries/pubs/1948/AIC1948PandS58thAn_comb.pdf. 8. Bowman, autobiography, p. 8. Also in Eagles-Smith, Richard Bowman: Forty Years of Abstract Painting, p. 13. 9. Ibid. 10. Bowman, autobiography, p. 9, and Bowman, “Paintings with Fluorescent Pigments.” Also in Eagles-Smith, Richard Bowman: Forty Years of Abstract Painting, p. 13. 11. Richard Bowman, “A Commentary on the Relation of Science and Art,” single-page typed manuscript hand-dated 1950 by Bowman. Bowman Estate Archive. However, the correct date is most likely between 1953 and 1956, as Bowman’s next series, Micromacrocosmos, which he began in 1952, is included in the document, and he mentions the painting Spring, which was included in the 1956 Stanford Art Gallery exhibition. 12. David Hopkins, “Duchamp, Childhood, Work and Play: The Vernissage for First Papers of Surrealism, New York, 1942,” Tate Papers 22, http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/22/ duchamp-childhood-work-and-play-the-vernissage-for-firstpapers-of-surrealism-new-york-1942. 13. Richard Bowman, artist statement for the Stanford Art Gallery exhibition, January 1950. Bowman Estate Archive. 14. Roberto Matta had his first exhibition in New York in 1940 at Julian Levy Gallery, where he exhibited works on paper made with early black-light pigments paints. They
were shown in a room that was darkened, and the works were viewed under special lighting. According to Matta scholar Martica Sawin, “It was to make a sensation for that one show, not a general practice.” Sawin, email to author, May 5, 2018. It is possible Bowman learned of Matta’s black-light installation when Matta gave a talk at the Institute of Design, Chicago, in 1943. 15. Stanford University Art Gallery, Kinetic: A Commentary on the Relation of Art and Science, booklet in conjunction with a retrospective exhibition of paintings by Richard Bowman, January 31–February 19, 1956 (Palo Alto: Stanford University Art Gallery, 1956), p. 10. 16. Ben Metcalfe, “Varsity Art Shock—A Morbid Hoax?” Winnipeg Tribune, December 3, 1951, front page. 17. Bowman explained the Micromacrocosmos works— which totaled just five—as a “series showing the structural similarities of reality under powerful microscopes and the world from great heights (both visions new to man in this era); and other related phenomena such as the idea of nature forms bursting into life (as depicted in the painting Spring) and composite, moving aspects of normal visual reality” In Bowman, “A Commentary on the Relation of Science and Art”. 18. Letter from Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to Bowman, April 23, 1952, confirming Bowman’s award for the Sixty-Ninth Annual Spring Salon exhibition. Bowman Estate Archive. 19. Letter from National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, to Bowman, September 11, 1953. A second letter from the National Gallery of Canada, dated February 17, 1954, stated that there would be a catalogue and mentioned the subsequent venues (Bowman Estate Archive). 20. “While in Winnipeg, Canada, from September,1950 to May, 1954, I was unable to find these pigments, and I slowly used up the paint I had found. It wasn’t until early 1956 that I was again able to use them.” Bowman, “Work and Concept,” typed version (see n. 3), pp. 19–20. 21. Bowman, autobiography, p. 10. 22. Bowman, “Work and Concept,” typed version (see n. 3), p. 20. 23. Stanford University Art Gallery, Kinetic: A Commentary. 24. Richard Bowman, “The Series,” document typed by Bowman explaining all of his series from 1943 to 1977, when he stopped working in series. Bowman Estate Archive. 25. “The colors in the Kinetogenics series of paintings emit an actual, measurable energy. In our Atomic Age, these paintings are pictorial interpretations of the great forces, unseen but known, in the universe.” From Bowman’s writings in the Bowman Estate Archive, December 1958; published in “Fragments from the Artist’s Notebook,” Richard Bowman: Paintings and Reflections, 1943–1961 (San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Art, 1961). 26. Bowman, autobiography, p. 11. Also in Eagles-Smith, Richard Bowman: Forty Years of Abstract Painting, p. 14.
27. Arthur Bloomfield, “Two Top Painters at S.F. Museum,” San Francisco Call-Bulletin, July, 31, 1950; “Paintings on Display: Bowman and Onslow Ford Show,” San Francisco Weekly, July 1959. Bowman Estate Archive. 28. Dean Wallace, “Four Bring Their Art to Perfection,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 30, 1960. 29. Bowman, “The Series.” 30. Alfred Frankenstein, review of SFMA retrospective Paintings and Reflections, 1943–1961, San Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 1961. 31. Dean Wallace, “A Painter Looks at the Atomic,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 29, 1961. 32. Letter from the California Ink Company to Bowman, March 16, 1961, stating that there are problems with the transparency of fluorescent pigments for printing and that the company is seeking technical assistance; a second letter from the California Ink Company, May 15, 1961, confirmed that the company consulted with Radiant Color. Bowman Estate Archive. 33. “International Art,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday Magazine, October 29, 1961, p. 67. Bowman showed three paintings in the 445-work exhibition. 34. John Canaday, “Visitors from the West,” New York Times, October 28, 1962. 35. From “America” introduction by George D. Culler, Painting from the Pacific: Japan, America, Australia, New Zealand (Auckland: Auckland City Art Gallery, 1961), n.p.; The Press [Auckland], August 5, 1961, https://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/exhibitions/painting-from-the-pacific. The exhibition ran from July 25 to August 20. Artists from the San Francisco Bay Area also included Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, James Budd Dixon, Leslie Kerr, Nathan Oliveira, Hassel Smith, Julius Wasserstein, James Weeks, and Noriko Yamamoto. 36. Richard Bowman, “Paintings with Fluorescent Pigments,” p. 290. 37. Bowman, “The Series.” 38. Gerald Nordland, Richard Bowman: Paintings, 1943– 1972 (Roswell, NM: Roswell Museum and Art Center, 1972), n.p. Bowman Estate Archive. 39. [Thomas Albright], “A Kind of Non-Art Show: Brilliant Work by Bowman,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 14, 1970. 40. Nordland, Richard Bowman: Paintings, 1943–1972, n.p. Bowman was introduced to Nordland by Emerson Woelffer. All three were originally from Chicago and were jazz enthusiasts and amateur drummers. Both in Nordland’s 2004 oral history for the Archives of American Art and in a video interview during a visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) on July 11, 2007, he spoke of Bowman as an artist prophetic in his use of fluorescent paints (https://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oralhistory-interview-gerald-nordland-11679; https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=5YMvoHRhAn4, at 30 min.). 41. Paul Emerson, “Menlo Gallery Shows Bowman Art:
Major Retrospective Show,” Palo Alto Times, October 6, 1972. Bowman Estate Archive. 42. Thomas Albright, “New Museum Director: A Stress on Local Artists,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 14, 1973. Hopkins began his tenure in January 1974. 43. Bowman, from typed quotes. Bowman Estate Archive. 44. Eagles-Smith, “Richard Bowman: His Work and Concept” (see n. 3), p. 8. 45. The fifteen artists were: John Anderson, Peter Young, Jimmy Ernst, Richard Bowman, Lee Mullican, Mark Tobey, Ed Moses, Gordon Onslow Ford, J. C. Wright, Charles Seliger, Sam Francis, Morris Graves, Richard Pousette-Dart, Max Cole, and Lita Albuquerque. For the exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, India, the title was amended to Visions of Inner Space: Gestural Painting in Modern American Art. 46. Independent Abstraction: A Survey of Paintings by Richard Bowman and Emerson Woelffer, January 11–February 13, 1990. 47. Walter Gabrielson, “Why Suck the Mainstream If You Don’t Live in New York,” Art in America, January–February 1974, p. 37; Harold Haydon, “The Integrity of the Artist Today: Integrity-vs-Being ‘With It,’” in Alumni Association of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Annual Meeting, June 12, 1969 (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago Alumni Association, 1969); George Rickey, “A Reflection: What Art Is and Is Not—Rickey Calls Pop Art Theatrical,” University of Iowa Spectator, June 1969. 48. Fariba Bogzaran, conversation with the author, December 20, 2017. 49. Rose Rabow Galleries Retrospective, 1958–1977, The 8 Gallery, San Francisco, January 14–February 14, 2007. The show featured the work of Lee Mullican, Gordon Onslow Ford, Richard Bowman, Fritz Rauh, Fred Reichman, Julius Wasserstein, Sabro Hasegawa, and Michael Wehrstedt. Rabow opened her gallery, the Rose Rabow Galleries, in 1959, after the death of her French husband, gallery owner Alexandre Rabow of the Rabow Galleries. 50. Gerald Nordland, Richard Bowman: Paintings, 1943–1972, n.p. 51. Richard Bowman, handwritten manuscript written in preparation for Bowman’s 1986 retrospective at Harcourts, undated [ca. 1986], p. 28. 52. See Laura Whitcomb, “Floating Gallery: David Cole’s Gallery on the S.S. Vallejo,” in Artists, Poets, and Visionaries of the S.S. Vallejo: 1949–1969, edited by Fariba Bogzaran (Inverness, CA: Lucid Art Foundation, 2018), p. 43. 53. Nordland, Richard Bowman: Paintings, 1943–1972, n.p. 54. Bowman, from typed quotes. Bowman Estate Archive. 55. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man, p. 33, https://fullenglishbooks.com/english-books/full-book-the-ascent-ofman-read-online-chapter-33. Publication accompanying the BBC television series, originally broadcast 1973.
“Since 1943, my painting concept has been concerned with the energies in nature (or reality). The concept was born from a painting made in Mexico in July 1943, Rock Formation in
Sunlight. The concept began, and has been developed, intuitively.” —Richard Bowman
Rock Formation in Sunlight 1943 Oil on canvas 29 x 42 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Rock and Sun 1943 Oil on canvas 30 x 40 inches Lucid Art Foundation, Inverness, CA
Rock and Sun 1944 Oil on canvas 32 x 37 inches Private Collection
Rock in Motion 1943 Oil on canvas 45 x 40 inches Private Collection
Sun Spots 1944 Oil on canvas 40 x 45 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Rock and Sun 1945 Oil on canvas 48 x 40 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Rock and Sun 1945 Oil on canvas 41 x 41 inches Private Collection
Rock and Sun 1946 Oil on canvas 46 x 36 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Rock and Sun 1947 Oil on canvas 35 x 52 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Enigma 1947 Oil on canvas 52 x 70 inches Collection of Murphy and Gallup, San Francisco
Rock and Sun 1947 Oil on canvas 45 x 36 inches Collection of Murphy and Gallup, San Francisco
Rock and Sun 1948 Oil on canvas 44 x 45 inches Collection of Murphy and Gallup, San Francisco
“The colors in the fluorescent paintings emit an actual, measurable energy. In our Atomic Age, these paintings are pictorial interpretations of the great forces, unseen but known, in the universe.” —Richard Bowman
Figure 1: Richard Bowman, Kinetogenics 38, 1960. Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas, 70 x 76 in. (See also page 59.) Photograph made by the artist, c.1960, outside in daylight shade, in order to capture the maximally possible color effect with a regular camera.
GLOWING COLORS AS METAPHORS FOR LIGHT “The light of painting is not that of the solar spectrum. The biggest, always in pursuit of her secret, have all understood that it remains a mystery. So, there is this kind of nostalgia, despite the few joys of passing successes - this feeling of insufficiency in view of the scale of the goal to be attained: It is still color. It’s not yet light....”1 In 1946 Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947) wrote this rather confessory insight in his correspondence with art historian Jean Leymarie. By that time, he was probably the only artist who had spent his entire working life unravelling the complexities of light. By carefully reproducing them on
Stefanie De Winter
canvas, he almost turned the traditional palette into self-luminous colors... although, something was still lacking. Deeply moved by the art of his spiritual ancestor and driven by a similar motivation, Richard Bowman dedicated his artistic life to the search for the possibilities of capturing natures’ radiation on canvas. By the time he was in his early thirties, he discovered daylight fluorescent alkyd paints, from the DayGlo brand, in an art supply store in Palo Alto. By finding these innovative, very bright shades, Bowman could start where Bonnard had ended the experiments of painting light with traditional colors. In a statement of 1959, Bowman considered
fluorescent paints as natural media. These hues carried the potential to express his concept of the great, unseen, but known forces of the universe.2 Entering Bowman’s well conserved art studio, provides a definite glimpse of his inspiration. The open walls are decorated with clippings and images from scientific magazines, betraying his particular fascination with the micro- and macrocosms (figure 2). His artistic attraction towards the visualisation of radiation in general, parallels the glorification of something much greater, which, throughout the existence of humanity, was often been depicted through ‘light.’ Light as spiritual metaphor, has been expressed by many cultures, through specific materialities: divine sculptures and interiors loaded with jewellery and gold, icons illuminated with gold-leaf, even the subtle shimmer in holy representations was
obtained through the use of lead-tin-yellow. By using mirroring and reflective materials, artists tried to integrate light into their creations, but none of them had the capacity to glow from within, like DayGlo colors can. Daylight fluorescent hues, like conventional colors, appear through absorption and reflection of light. In addition, through their interaction with ultraviolet rays, they have the capacity to make the reflected color glow. Their curious appearance arises from complex chemical structures of organic dye compositions embedded in polymer resin matrices. The specific materiality of these luminous paints requires a specific application manual, especially when combined with a conventional pallet. These difficulties in use were thoroughly understood by Bowman. The trans-
Figure 2: “Wall with Clippings,” an impression from Richard Bowman’s studio, Redwood City, California. Photo taken in May 2012 by the author.
parency of the luminescent pigments doesn’t allow any form of traditional mixing. He knew that they would inevitably get lost in the opaqueness of inorganic paints. In order to obtain a harmonious, vividly colored surface, such as in the Kinetogenics 38 painting (figure 1; also page 59), he first had to apply the fluorescent paint and then work around it with the regular pallet. Furthermore, DayGlo paints, which appear much brighter then white, affect the appearance of neighbouring conventional colors, because of their strong contrasting intensity. This ‘graying-out’ of the regular shades of color often caused Bowman to tame the fluorescent paint skin by sporadically retouching it with white paint and conventionally colored glazes, until the right effect was obtained. All his works reveal new dimensions of color by almost scientific combination of both paint types. He developed his own kinetic painting technique, in which he emphasized a radiance effect, by applying color with the fragmentation techniques he borrowed from the cubists and futurists. Starting from shapes found in scientific imagery, he positioned the fragmented color vehicles in such a way that from a distance, a holistic visual explosion instantaneously dilates the visual field of any spectator. The development of the camera, which has often been the subject of discussions about the relevance of painting, has never been able to replace the eye of the artist, especially in terms of color perception. In that respect, Bowman’s work is a perfect example of how an artist with his intuition, better succeeds in capturing nature’s phenomena than any sophisticated machine. Although formally inevitably correct, when it comes to communicating the worlds’ unique color pallet, let alone nature’s radiation of light, compared to a painting, a photograph remains nothing more than a lifeless resemblance. As science and technology evolved through the 50s and 60s, the capacity of human perception expanded expo-
nentially, bringing into view both the sub-atomic world and the cosmos at large. Bowman, however enchanted by these new scientific accomplishments, remained critical. Through his creations he reminds us of the fact that what suddenly became visible is still far away from its reality. Color, like in Bonnard’s oeuvre, remains the leading factor in Bowman’s transcription of his environment on canvas. A two-dimensional liveliness is obtained, because of his careful combining of the classic pallet with the new DayGlo hues. Although Bowman painted rather lyrically abstract images based on scientific imagery, they taught us more about the secrets of radiation than any clipping one could find in his studio. At first glance, the rushed spectator can enjoy a feast of color, however, those who stare longer will notice a curious luminosity. It is the glow of these colors that provides the eye with a slight push in the direction of the awareness of what ‘lifelike’ might be, more than was ever possible before within the two-dimensional medium. In short, we could say that Bowman opened up a virtual door towards a better understanding of the inscrutability of the visual effects of light. Notes: 1. Pierre Bonnard quoted in Alain Lévêque and Antoine Terrasse, Observations on the Painting. Contemporary Workshop, François-Marie Deyroll, editor, 2015: 22. 2. Bowman, Richard, George D. Culler, and Gordon Onslow Ford, Richard Bowman, Paintings and Reflections, 1943–1961, San Francisco Museum of Art (1961).
Stefanie De Winter studied conservation of paintings at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, where she focused on conservation problems related to fluorescent paint layers. After a stint as a conservator in NYC, where she worked on contemporary American paintings (mostly Frank Stella), she went on getting a master’s degree in Art History at KU Leuven, focusing on fluorescent colors in the work of Richard Bowman (1918–2001), Herbert Aach (1923–1985) and Frank Stella (born 1936). She is currently a FWO PhD fellow in Art History, conducting research on the impact of fluorescent materials in New York art of the 60s and 70s.
Atomic Landscape 1949 Oil on canvas 26 x 20 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Kinetograph 13 1951 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on panel 68 x 48 inches Collection of Murphy and Gallup, San Francisco
Kinetograph 5 1950 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas 57 x 134 inches Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah; gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation.
Kinetograph 16 1951 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas 92 x 50 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Kinetograph 18 1951 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas 53 x 48 inches Private Collection
Kinetograph 25 1952 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on board 48 x 36 inches Private Collection
Kinetograph 26 1952 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas 46 x 56 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Aeroscape 1952 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas 32 x 27 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Micromacrocosmos 1 1953 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas 36 x 41 inches Collection of Murphy and Gallup, San Francisco
Untitled 1953 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas 56 x 46 inches Collection of William and Sue Bowman
Micromacrocosmos 5 1955 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas 40 x 36 inches Private Collection
Thermal Situation 1955 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on canvas 56 x 46 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Sunstream 1956 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 46 x 56 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Neutral Tension 1956 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 76 x 94 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Nucleus 1956 Oil and fluorescent lacquer on panel 30 x 24 inches Oakland Museum of California, gift of Dr. Sam West
Kinetogenics 4 1956 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 51 x 41 inches Collection of Geri McGilvray, Palo Alto, CA
Kinetogenics 9 1957 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 50 x 54 inches Lucid Art Foundation, Inverness
Kinetogenics 14 1958 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 53 x 47 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Kinetogenics 38 1960 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 70 x 76 inches Collection of Celeste de Schulthess Marin
Kinetogenics 30 1960 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 71 x 87 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Kinetogenics 37 1960 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 44 x 48 inches Collection of Paul Chapuis and Laura Metz
Kinetogenics 34 1960 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 52 x 36 inches Collection of Jerald and Carrie Bowman
Kinetogenics 75 1963 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 51 x 51 inches Collection of Jerald and Carrie Bowman
Kinetogenics 49 1961 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 25 x 82 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Kinetogenics 77 1963 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 621/2 x 811/2 inches San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Derek M. Fairman
Kinetogenics 91 1965 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 721/2 x 79 inches San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Dr. Robert C. Dickenman
Kinetogenics 90 1965 Oil and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 56 x 46 inches Collection of Matthew Bowman
Kinetogenics 85 1964 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 65 x 59 inches Collection of Kimberly Bowman
Untitled 1965 Oil and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 48 x 72 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Environs 16 1964 Oil and fluorescent oil on canvas 62 x 82 inches Collection of James A. Bowman
Dynamorph 28 1968 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 48 x 36 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Synthesis 12 1966 Oil and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 51 x 41 inches Collection of Michael Bechler, Palo Alto, CA
Dynamorph 25 1968 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 51 x 64 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Dynamorph 52 1971 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 70 x 59 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Dynamorph 47 1970 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Dynamorph 65 1972 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Dynamorph 67 1972 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Dynamorph 82 1973 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 50 x 40 inches Collection of Kimberly Bowman
Dynamorph 88 1974 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 54 x 54 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Dynamorph 94 1975 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 44 x 50 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Dynamorph 99 1975 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Dynamorph 105 1976 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 52 x 52 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Dynamorph 107 1977 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 44 x 44 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Environs 26 1979 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 48 x 44 inches Richard Bowman Estate
The Glowing 1981 Lithograph 22 x 15 inches Collection of William and Sue Bowman
Nucleona 1984 Oil-based block printing ink and fluorescent oil on chipboard on plywood 20 /2 x 15 inches Private Collection
Echo 1982 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 50 x 42 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Soft Eye 1982 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 54 x 52 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Field Destiny 1988 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 42 x 46 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Soft Explosion 1988 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 46 x 42 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Hot Balance 1990 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 54 x 50 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Spinner 1991 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 34 x 26 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Shattered Sun 1993 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 20 x 14 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Hot Summerland 1993 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 14 x 20 inches Richard Bowman Estate
Plum Tree in October 1999 Acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas 36 x 26 inches Collection of Geri McGilvray, Palo Alto, CA
Richard Bowman (1918–2001) EDUCATION Art Institute of Chicago, BFA, 1942 University of Iowa, MFA, 1949 AWARDS Edward L. Ryerson Foreign Traveling Fellowship, Art Institute of Chicago, 1942 (Mexico) William M. R. French Memorial Gold Medal, Art Institute of Chicago, 1945 Modern Painting Prize, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1952 Gift of Time Grant, Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, New Mexico, 1972 SOLO EXHIBITIONS The Pinacotheca Gallery (Rose Fried Gallery) New York, 1945 Milwaukee Art Institute, Wisconsin, 1946 Swetzoff Gallery, Boston, 1949 Bern Porter Gallery, Sausalito, CA, 1949 Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, 1950 Kinetic . . . A commentary on the relationship of SCIENCE and ART. Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, 1956 Rose Rabow Galleries, San Francisco, 1957– 1977 (every 18 months) Richard Bowman: Paintings and Reflections, 1943–1961. San Francisco Museum of Art, 1961 Richard Bowman: Paintings from 1966–1970. San Francisco Museum of Art, 1970 Richard Bowman: Paintings, 1943–1972. Roswell Museum and Art Center, New Mexico, 1972. Traveled to the Museum of Texas Tech
University, Lubbock, 1972; and Sacred Heart Convent Gallery, Menlo Park, 1972 Richard Bowman: Forty Years of Abstract Painting. Harcourts Modern Gallery, San Francisco, 1986 Rock and Sun: Richard Bowman’s Pioneer Abstractions of the 1940s. Steven Wolf Fine Arts, San Francisco 2000 TWO-PERSON EXHIBITIONS Room of Chicago Art: Paintings by Richard Bowman and Russell Woeltz. Art Institute of Chicago, 1945 Joan Mitchell and Richard Bowman: Oil Paintings. Harry and Della Burpee Art Gallery, Rockford, Illinois. Traveled to University of Illinois. 1947. Sponsored by Rockford Art Association. Gordon Onslow Ford and Richard Bowman. San Francisco Museum of Art, 1959 Independent Abstraction: A Survey of Paintings by Richard Bowman and Emerson Woelffer. Harcourts Modern & Contemporary Art, San Francisco, 1990 SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS Ras-Martin Gallery, Mexico City, 1943 56th Annual American Exhibition of Oil Paintings. Art Institute of Chicago, 1945 Art of This Century Gallery, New York, 1945 Abstract and Surrealist American Art: FiftyEighth Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture. Art Institute of Chicago, 1947–48. Curators: Daniel Catton Rich, Frederick A. Sweet, and Katherine Kuh. Catalogue. Fourth Summer Exhibition of Contemporary Art. State University of Iowa, Iowa City, 1948.
Organized by Lester D. Longman. Included Milton Avery, Max Beckmann, Leonora Carrington, Max Ernst, Hans Hofmann, and others. Brochure. Joslyn Memorial Art Museum, Omaha, NE, 1948 2nd Biennial Exhibition of Paintings and Prints. Walker Art Center, juried show, Minneapolis, 1949. Brooklyn Museum, 1949 [Group exhibition of University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, artists.] Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1951. Included William McCloy, Robert Gadbois, John Kacere, and other instructors from the School or Art, University of Manitoba.
Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture. Fine Arts Gallery, Carnegie Institute, 1961–62. 50 California Artists. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. 1962. Organized by the San Francisco Museum of Art, with assistance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Traveled to Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; and Des Moines Art Center, IA. Catalogue.
Sixty-ninth Annual Spring Show. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. 1952. Bowman awarded Modern Painting Prize.
Contrasts. San Francisco Art Institute. February 1966. Included Hassel Smith, Gordon Onslow Ford, and Ruth Asawa.
Annual Exhibition of Canadian Painting. The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1953. Included John Kacere, William McCloy, Roland Wise, and Takao Tanabe.
Gallery 865, San Francisco, 1975
Winnipeg Group. Vancouver Art Gallery. 1953. Included William McCloy, John Kacere, Cecil Richards, Roland Wise. São Paulo Biennial of Modern Art, Second edition, 1953–54. Canadian section. Traveled to Caracas, Venezuela, and the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. Catalogue. [Group exhibition of Winnipeg artists.] Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1954. Included Oscar Cahén, William McCloy, and Cecil Richards. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 1954 Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, 1958 Rabow Galleries, San Francisco, 1959. Included Julius Wasserstein, Gordon Onslow Ford, and Fred Reichman. David Cole Gallery, Inverness, CA, June 18, 1960. Included Ruth Awasa, John Baxter, Nankoku Hidai, Onslow Ford, Fritz Rauh, David Simpson, and Jean Varda.
Paintings from the Pacific: Japan, America, Australia, & New Zealand. Auckland City Art Gallery, New Zealand, 1961. Catalogue.
Arleigh Gallery, San Francisco. October 1967. Included Lee Mullican, Fred Reichman, Amalia Schulthess, and John Baxter. Creation. Galerie Schreiner, Basel, Switzerland. 1978. Included Joan Miró, Fritz Rauh, John Anderson, Ruth Asawa, J.B. Blunk, Roberto Matta, Lee Mullican, Gordon Onslow Ford, Wolfgang Paalen, Fritz Rauh, Yves Tanguy, and others. Accompanying book by Onslow Ford. A Personal Selection/Collection. David Cole Gallery, Inverness, CA. 1984. Forty-eight artists including Richard Diebenkorn, Claire Falkenstein, Richard Faralla, Sam Francis, Arthur Holman, Frank Lobdell, Ed Moses, Gordon Onslow Ford, Fritz Rauh, David Simpson, Amalia Schulthess, Jean Varda, Jack Wright, J.B. Blunk. Visions of Inner Space: Gestural Painting in Modern American Art. Wight Gallery, UCLA. 1987. Fifteen artists including Sam Francis, Morris Graves, John Anderson, Lee Mullican, Gordon Onslow Ford, Mark Tobey, and Ed Moses. Co-curated by Merle Schipper and Lee Mullican. Catalogue. Traveled to National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India, 1988
Through the Light: An Exploration into Consciousness. Arts and Consciousness Gallery, John F. Kennedy University, Berkeley, California 1997. Curated by Farbiba Bogzaran. Catalogue. Lee Mullican Memorial Exhibtion. Herbert Palmer Gallery, Los Angeles. 1998 The Rose Rabow Galleries Retrospective: 1959– 1977. The 8 Gallery, San Franicsco. 2007 Landscapes of Consciousness: A Circle of Artists at the Beginning of Lucid Art. Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco, 2008. Included Gordon Onslow Ford, Fritz Rauh, John Anderson, and Jack Wright. Catalogue. Ship of Dreams: Artists, Poets, and Visionaries of the S.S. Vallejo. Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Sonoma, CA, 2018. Catalogue. MUSEUM COLLECTIONS Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan Oakland Museum of California Roswell Museum and Art Center, New Mexico San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California The Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, California BOOKS AND CATALOGUES Rich, Daniel Catton. Abstract and Surrealist American Art: Fifty-Eighth Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1947. Fourth Summer Exhibition of Contemporary Art. Iowa City: State University of Iowa, 1948. Porter, Bern. Kinetic: A commentary on the relation of Science and Art in conjunction with a
retrospective exhibition of paintings by Richard Bowman. Palo Alto: Stanford University Art Gallery, 1956. Kim Eagles-Smith, ed. Richard Bowman: Forty Years of Abstract Painting. San Francisco: Harold Parker in association with Harcourts Modern Gallery, Inc., 1986. Culler, George D. Richard Bowman, Paintings and Reflections, 1943–1961. San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Art, 1961. Culler, George D. 50 California Artists. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1962. Nordland, Gerald. Richard Bowman, Paintings, 1943-1972, Roswell, NM: Roswell Museum and Art Center, 1972. Onslow Ford, Gordon. Creation. Basel: Galerie Schreiner, 1978. Schipper, Merle. Visions of Inner Space: Gestural Painting in Modern American Art. Los Angeles: Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery, UCLA, 1987. With introduction by Lee Mullican. Bogzaran, Fariba. Through the Light: An Exploration into Consciouness. San Francisco: Dream Creations, 1997. Bogzaran, Fariba. Landscapes of Consciousness: A Circle of Artists at the Beginning of Lucid Art. San Francisco: Weinstein Gallery, 2008. Bogzaran, Fariba, ed. Artists, Poets, and Visionaries of the S.S. Vallejo: 1949-1969. Inverness, CA: Lucid Art Foundation. 2018. ARTICLES AND REVIEWS [Review of Solo Exhibition at The Pinacotheca Gallery.] Art News. March 1945. “Joan Mitchell, Richard Bowman Open TwoMan Show Tomorrow at Art Association Meeting.” Rockford Morning Star (IL). January 1947.
Robert Ayre. [Review of Exhibition, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.] Montreal Daily Star. 1951. Ben Metcalfe. “Varsity Art Shock—A Morbid Hoax?” Winnipeg Tribune, December 3, 1951. Beverly Wright. “Richard Bowman, abstract painter, has one-man show at Stanford Gallery.” Palo Alto Times. February 17, 1956. “Atomic Art Show at Stanford.” San Francisco Chronicle. February, 19, 1956. “P.A. Artist Portrays Energy in Oils.” San Jose Mercury News. July 25, 1958. Neita Crain Farmer. “A Solitary Voice: Richard Bowman’s Paintings Say Something, In A New Way.” Palo Alto Times. May 30, 1959. Barbara Bladen. “Dick Bowman’s Paintings Show Atomic Awareness,” San Mateo Times. July 18, 1959. Arthur Bloomfield. “Two Top Painters at San Francisco Museum.” San Francisco Call Bulletin. July 31, 1959. Alfred Frankenstein. “Slow and Fast Sculpture and Kinetogenics.” San Francisco Chronicle. May 24, 1959. “Paintings on Display: Bowman and Onslow Ford Show.” San Francisco Weekly. July 1959. Herman Wong. “Bowman’s Art Seen At Show, Artist Builds Studio Near Hillside House.” Redwood City Tribune, September 15, 1960. Dean Wallace. “Four Bring Their Art to Perfection.” San Francisco Chronicle. September 30, 1960. Dean Wallace. “A Painter Looks at the Atom.” San Francisco Chronicle. May 29, 1961. Alfred Frankenstein. [Review of retrospective at San Francisco Museum of Art.] San Francisco Chronicle. November 12, 1961. “International Art.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday Magazine. October 29, 1961.
“Pacific Paintings Show Common Characteristics.” The Press (Auckland, New Zealand). August 5, 1961. Naomi Baker. “San Francisco’s Art Is Viewed.” San Diego Evening Tribune. January 26, 1962. John Canaday. “Visitors From the West.” New York Times. October 28, 1962. Arthur Bloomfield. “Lost in a World They Were Never Made For.” San Francisco News-Call Bulletin. August 3, 1963. Arthur Bloomfield. “Bowman Paints His Own Path.” San Francisco News-Call Bulletin. February 11, 1964. “The Rockford Fifty States of Art Exhibition.” Palo Alto Times. October 5, 1965. Alfred Frankenstein. “Bowman’s Radiant Abstract Art.” San Francisco Chronicle. November 12, 1965. Thomas Albright. “A Kind of Non-Art Show: Brilliant Work by Bowman.” San Francisco Chronicle, February 14, 1970. Paul Emerson, “Menlo Gallery Shows Bowman Art: Major Retrospective Show.” Palo Alto Times. October 6, 1972. Arthur Bloomfield. “A Luxuriant Impact to Bowman Paintings.” San Francisco Examiner. November 20, 1972. Thomas Albright. “Two Artists Views of Nature.” San Francisco Chronicle. October 9, 1974. Arthur Bloomfield. “All But the Kitchen Sink.” San Francisco Examiner. September 24, 1974. Thomas Albright. “Realism Moves In.” San Francisco Chronicle. Thursday, September 4, 1975. Suzanne Muchnic. “Inspired Visions of Inner Worlds at UCLA.” Los Angeles Times. January 10, 1988.
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