HG Magazine: Issue no. 18 — Bruce Conner and Jean Conner
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Issue no. 18

Hosfelt Gallery is honored to announce the representation of the Conner Family Trust which includes work by Anonymous, Anonymouse, Bruce Conner, Jean Conner, Emily Feather, and Signed in Blood.
Bruce Conner and Edmund Shea, SOUND OF TWO HAND ANGEL, 1974, gelatin silver print, 85 x 39 inches
Bruce Conner (b. 1933, Kansas) met Jean Sandstedt (b. 1933, Nebraska) in 1954 at University of Nebraska, Lincoln where they were both studying art. They married on September 1, 1957 and left for San Francisco that night.
Jean Conner, YOUTH, 1961, graphite on paper, 6 13/16 x 3 7/8 inches
There, the couple fell in with well-known members of the Beat generation, including Jess, Wallace Berman, Joan Brown, Jay DeFeo, Robert Duncan, Wally Hedrick, George Herms, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure. Both Jean and Bruce exhibited work at the Six Gallery, the legendary place where Allen Ginsberg first publicly read his era-defining masterpiece Howl.
Bruce Conner, ILL, 1987, photocopy collage, 58 x 39 1/2 inches
Jean Conner, FORMAL GARDEN, 1966, paper collage, 12 3/4 x 9 inches
The Conners, like other Bay Area artists, refused to conform to the expectations and standards defined by the art establishment of New York. They embraced their ostracization by using the detritus of society as the basis and media of their work.
Bruce Conner, GO ASK TUCKER, 1962, mixed media assemblage, 48 1/4 x 40 inches;
de Saisset Museum permanent collection, Museum purchase with funds donated by Robert Prentice, Paula Kirkeby, Ruth A. Benson, The Collector's Forum, and Partners in Excellence, 18.9.1987
As Peter Boswell notes in 2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY II, Bruce Conner "was a key artist in the development of assemblage art, a movement of found object sculpture that critic Peter Plagens defined as 'the first home-grown California modern art.'"
Listen to MOMA's curatorial interpretation of Bruce Conner's assemblage work
Jean Conner, PAINTING WITH FRINGE, 1964, mixed media collage, 16 3/8 x 11 inches
Jean Conner began making mixed-media collages on paper in the mid 1950s. Women’s magazines such as Ladies Home Journal, Look, Life and McCall's blossomed in the post-war economic boom. The idealized suburban lifestyles they promoted provided a rich trove of images to appropriate, manipulate, and subvert. While best known for her collages, Jean always worked and continues to work in other media, including drawing and painting.
Jean Conner, UNTITLED, 1983, paper collage, 8 3/4 x 11 1/2 inches
"[Jean] Conner’s collages demonstrate her striking skill in juxtaposing images in both maximalist compositions and quietly restrained works. In bringing together disparate imagery, Conner creates intriguingly enigmatic formal compositions and narratives." — Genevieve Quick, Art Practical, 2015
Jean Conner, HUMMINGBIRD, 1984, paper collage, 13 1/2 x 10 inches
Bruce Conner, INKBLOT DRAWING, OCTOBER, 1991, 1991, ink on paper, 22 1/2 x 30 3/8 inches

An Artwork Explained

Bruce Conner, INKBLOT DRAWING, JULY 7, 1999, 1999, ink on paper, 7 1/4 x 9 9/16 inches
"It's determined ahead of time where the inkblots will be placed and organized. A ruler is used to mark out the page and an implement to score the paper. Sometimes it starts as preplanned, but then it may be altered very soon after the process starts. A fine point crow-quill pen and ink is used to do the drawing. The paper is folded and a miracle occurs.

"There is a fold created along the full length of the paper. When scored lines are vertical and parallel to one another they become part of the work. Vertical lines in parallel make it possible to create a series in relationship one to another and to emphasize variations. It's like a cinematic device. When you see one image followed by another it adjusts your vision, memory and awareness. What you have just seen will affect what you see in the next images that are viewed. And after looking at several and returning to look at the first one, it will probably appear to have changed. The goal is to create objects that continually renew themselves, to always change, to have the potential for the process of change."
— Bruce Conner in an interview with Jack Rasmussen for the catalogue AFTER BRUCE CONNER: ANONYMOUS, ANONYMOUSE, AND EMILY FEATHER published on the occasion of the exhibition at the American University Museum, Washington, D.C.
Listen to MOMA's curatorial interpretation of Bruce Conner's inkblots
Emily Feather, INKBLOT DRAWING NOVEMBER 24, 2005, 2005, ink on paper, 5 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches
Believing that within the art market authorship had become more important than the artwork itself, at various times Bruce Conner refused to sign his artworks, signed them with blood, or his thumbprint.

In 1999, he announced his retirement from the art world, though Conner-like inkblot drawings soon began appearing under the signatures of Emily Feather, Anonymous and Anonymouse. Explaining that he had trained and paid these artists to make and exhibit artwork, Conner commended their decision to remain anonymous as it validated his goal of disrupting norms of artistic authorship and identity.

"Look at all the works in museums by Anonymous during the last 4000 years. Anonymous is everywhere doing the best work in every country in every century. The greatest artists have always been anonymous. It's only been in the last 600 years or so that an ego identification has been attached to things. It has been to the detriment of the work. The work should represent itself alone. Putting a name on it removes it outside what the work is, unless the work has a very personal relationship. The insistence on displaying conspicuous names on works is an interference. It's like having a huge Coca Cola sign stuck in the middle of Yosemite National Park in front of the Bridal Veil waterfall."
— Bruce Conner in an interview with Jack Rasmussen for the catalogue AFTER BRUCE CONNER: ANONYMOUS, ANONYMOUSE, AND EMILY FEATHER published on the occasion of the exhibition at the American University Museum, Washington, D.C.
Bruce Conner, UNTITLED D-7, MAY 8, 1968, 1968, ink on paper, 26 3/4 x 20 3/4 inches
Bruce Conner died in 2008 after a prolonged struggle with liver disease. During his lifetime, his work was collected and exhibited extensively by museums internationally. In 1999-2001, the major survey exhibition 2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY PART II was organized by the Walker Art Center and traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. In 2016-2017, MOMA and SFMOMA jointly organized and exhibited It's All True, a retrospective that also traveled to the Reina Sofia in Madrid.

During Bruce's lifetime, Jean rarely showed her work. However, in the last several years, her pieces have been acquired by SFMOMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the San Jose Museum of Art. The San Jose Museum of Art will host a survey exhibition in Autumn of 2021.

An exhibition at Hosfelt Gallery is planned for January of 2021.
Jean Conner, ADDING MACHINE, 1969, paper collage, 16 x 8 inches

Art @ Home

Andrew Schoultz
Anoka Faruqee and David Driscoll
Bruce Conner
Left (3): Bruce Conner; Right (1): Shahzia Sikander
Max Gimblett
Max Gimblett

In the Gallery

Max Gimblett: juggernaut installation view
Max Gimblett
on view through October 10

The work of the 84 year-old painter, calligrapher, and Rinzai Zen monk Max Gimblett — defined by masterful brushwork and an eccentric and sophisticated color sense — is a harmonious postmodern synthesis of American and Asian art. Often working on shaped canvases — tondos, ovals and his signature four-lobed quatrefoil — he marries Abstract Expressionism, Modernism and Spiritual Abstraction with mysticism and traditions of calligraphy. His use of gilding in precious metals refers to alchemy, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland (in which he was raised) and Japanese lacquerware, ceramics and temple art.

To view the exhibition in person, please make an appointment for your visit. You will have 40 minutes to see the show privately. You may call the gallery or use our online calendar: calendly.com/hosfelt-gallery.

We Recommend

San Jose Museum of Art
Gala and Auction 2020
Saturday, September 26 at 6 pm PST

Join the San Jose Museum of Art for the live broadcast of this year's Gala and Auction where works by Bruce Conner and Crystal Liu will be available to bid upon.

To register for the event, click here.
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