Oakland Museum of California has many wonderful oil paintings created by Californian artists in the middle of 20th century. The best example was Bruce McGaw's Figure (c. 1956-57), a portrait of a strangely lit bust, whose held up and inward facing hands were both awkward and eloquent, and it was quite a challenge to determine the spatial relationship between those arms and his eerie looking face. The pale tan face and right hand, interrupted by dark shadow of his featured, and framed by dark background, gave him a ghostly look, which was reinforced by the greenish tone on his left hand. A small patch of red on his left sleeve, and a thin stripe of red on his collar and shoulder over the navy blue uniform, added exciting notes to this muted monologue.
Figure, c. 1956-57, Oil on Canvas, Bruce McGaw
My second favorite was Spring Nude (1962) by Nathan Oliveira. This painting had layers upon layers of paints, and the effect of the interplay of visible paints from various layers were thrilling. In the middle of the canvas, superimposed amidst these layers of red, pink, purple, blue, yellow and green hues, was a dark silhouette of a figure, which could be either a man or a woman, either frontal or rear view, and this addition completely changed the outlook of this otherwise abstract work, and the patterns of the background became a fantastically colored beach, and the painting became an evocative figure study in an unusual, almost mythic setting.
Spring Nude, 1962, Oil on Canvas, Nathan Oliveira
My Favorite Museum Collection Series
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List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited
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