SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Crown Point Press announces Bruce Conner, a selection of photoetchings from the Dennis Hopper One Man Show, Volumes I, II, III, published by Crown Point in 1971, 1972, and 1973. The books contain twenty-six prints in total and increase in scale sequentially, resembling nestled accountants’ ledgers when stacked. The exhibition presents thirteen unbound photoetchings and is on display from October 14, 2016 to February 4, 2017.
Kathan Brown, founding director of Crown Point and printer of Conner’s first volume, invited the artist to work at the press in the early 1970s. Conner was interested in improving collages made of nineteenth-century, mass-produced engravings that he had been working on privately for years. Brown suggested the process of photoetching as a way to eliminate the paper edges and increase density. Positive transparencies of the collages were created, and Conner carefully scraped and drew on them to render the paper seams invisible and increase clarity overall. He then heightened the contrast in the prints, especially in the second and third volumes, through a very deep acid bite when etching the plates. By modifying both his source materials and the collages they yielded, Conner disguised the artist’s hand and created new images distanced from collage.
Originally Conner proposed the collages for an exhibition to be called The Dennis Hopper On-Man Show to Los Angeles dealer Nicholas Wilder in 1967. His concept would have been complete when Hopper, a friend and fellow artist, visited the gallery and discovered the false attribution. The proposal was rejected by Wilder, and Conner’s vision was not realized until he completed the photoetchings published by Crown Point Press several years later.
Bruce Conner (1933-2008) was an anti-establishment artist and filmmaker who challenged the status quo throughout his life. Born in McPherson, Kansas, in 1933, Conner was educated at Wichita University, the University of Nebraska, and the Brooklyn Art School. He moved to the Bay Area in 1957 where, for over a half century, he created a body of work that fluently crossed media, including painting, assemblage, film, sculpture, collage, and performance. In any medium, his work considered various themes of post-war American society from a growing consumer culture to the anxiety of possible nuclear mass destruction. He exhibited in the United States and Europe, and his work is in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. In 2000, the Walker Art Center organized a survey exhibition, 2000 BC: The Bruce Conner Story Part II, that traveled to Ft. Worth, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Bruce Conner is on display in the Crown Point Gallery at 20 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, October 14, 2016 – February 4, 2017. The gallery hours are Monday 10-5 and Tuesday through Saturday 10-6. The exhibition is on view concurrently with the retrospective Bruce Conner: It’s All True (October 29, 2016 – January 22, 2017) at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, located across the street from Crown Point Press. Organized by the SFMoMA with the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Bruce Conner: It’s All True opened in New York this past summer.