A Look Into Peter Saul's "San Francisco"
San Francisco, as a landscape, is one of the most unique cities on earth. Only 7 x 7 miles, with sheer-dropping hills and mountains, ocean and bay, flatlands and landfill, it's geography must be a fantastic subject to document. San Francisco as a city for characters, and I mean people, is also legendary. Peter Saul, born in the city, seemed to have always been able to capture that uniqueness in the works he dedicated to the city, with bold colors, elongated vantage points and cartoon aesthetic. Berggruen Gallery in SF is set to open Peter Saul: San Francisco, a collection of works from over 30 years (1966-96) where the "exhibition in his hometown represents a kind of homecoming for the artist and assembles a major group of works that depict the city of San Francisco, including five monumental paintings, four works on board, and two related prints.:
More importantly, this show seems to refocus on SF as a place for art, a city beyond its global tech capital and puts a reemphasis on the art history born and bred here. It's also a reminder of Saul as a vital Bay Area artist, and as his own fame has grown over the last 20 years, it gives a entry point into his early influences. It's also an example of a city as influence, and how a character can be made of a place that everyone has seen but has a different experience with. As the gallery notes, "Moreover, they constitute a history of Saul’s relationship with the city, as it developed from the city of his youth to the subject matter of his mature work. Indeed, in addition to works that depict San Francisco and its landmarks, the exhibition also considers the city’s recognition of and support for Saul’s practice."
A homecoming for one of America's great painters, back to a city known for counter-culture and the birthplace to a painter who has made his career with a sense of rebellion and reverie, seems apt for these crazy times. It's long overdue, as well. —Evan Pricco