UC Press, $49.95
David Park (1911-1960) was a first-rate painter who found himself in a tough spot in fall 1946. Clyfford Still, the imperious and voluble artist who would pioneer Abstract Expressionism, wanted to take over the advanced painting class that Park taught at San Francisco's California School of Fine Arts. The administration turned him down, and Still harbored a grudge for years.
Park went on to paint his way out of the dilemma, finding the means for a distinctive type of figuration that could be convincingly infused within muscular abstraction. In "David Park: A Painter's Life," Nancy Boas (Society of Six) draws on 20 years of interviews and research to tell the story of how Park came to spearhead Bay Area Figurative art, spawning Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown and others. This welcome volume is the first full biography of a Northern California artist.
-- Christopher Knight