FRANK LOBDELL (1921-2013)

Frank Lobdell was a central figure at San Francisco's California School of Fine Arts in the late 40’s, a time when Clyfford Still reigned supreme among San Francisco Abstract Expressionists. Lobdell, one of Still's prized students, had served in the infantry in World War II and found in Abstract Expressionism a means to express the effects of war on his psyche. Still's emphasis on unconscious expression helped Lobdell achieve what he believed to be the purpose of painting, to “always go beyond what can be said in words.” Lobdell's use of anthropomorphic shapes and pagan iconography all speak to a personal, archetypal symbology rooted in the of surrealist practice of Picasso, Miró and Klee.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri on August 23, 1921, Lobdell was a painter, printmaker, and teacher. He was a member of the Sausalito Six and was included in the 1948 group exhibition 5 Young Moderns at the Seashore Gallery of Modem Art in Sausalito. Lobdell left for Paris in 1951 and enrolled in the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. That same year Lobdell returned to San Francisco and established a studio. His distinguished teaching career began in 1957 at the California School of Fine Arts where, according to art historian and critic Thomas Albright, "he was one of the most influential teachers." In 1966, he was Artist-in-Residence at Stanford University and he joined the Stanford faculty the following year. He was Professor of Art until his retirement from Stanford in 1991.

Frank Lobdell is a recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Painting from the American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters. Lobdell exhibited internationally and his legacy of solo exhibitions include shows at the de Young Memorial Museum; Pasadena Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modem Art; Hearst Art Gallery, Saint Mary's College; College of Notre Dame Art Gallery, Belmont; and Stanford University Museum of Art. Honors bestowed on his work include the first Nealie Sullivan Award by the San Francisco Art Association and the Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Painting from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Repositories of his work include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Stanford University Museum of Art, Oakland Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modem Art, and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. A retrospective exhibition of Lobdell's career was organized in 2003 by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and traveled to the Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon. A major 406-page monograph, ‘Frank Lobdell: The Art of Making and Meaning’ accompanied the exhibition. Frank Lobdell died in Palo Alto, California on December 14, 2013.

Untitled FL-121
pen and wash on paper
17 x 14 in.