In the history of what has become known as Bay Area figurative painting, the late David Park occupies a special position. In the late 1940s, when Abstract Expressionism was beginning to take hold in and around San Francisco, Park was an instructor at the California School of Fine Arts, which under the charismatic Clyfford Still was the center of this developing vortex. Suddenly Park turned his back on it all. In 1949, he destroyed his Abstract Expressionist canvases of the previous four years and determined to make a new beginning, this time in a figurative mode. The reason was his conviction that as an Abstract Expressionist he had merely been imitating a given manner and that consequently there had been little of himself in the work he had produced.

As a personal and artistic gesture, Park’s destruction of his own work was radical in the extreme. He was consigning to oblivion paintings...


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