White Room: Don Bachardy
One-Day StandsApril 3–May 2, 2008
White Columns is pleased to present the first New York solo exhibition in more than thirty years by the Los Angeles-based artist Don Bachardy. Jointly organized by Tod Lippy, editor of ESOPUS magazine, the show includes thirty recent drawings of male nudes, selected from the many hundreds Bachardy has worked on in recent years. Drawn from life, Bachardy’s drawings – when seen together – function almost as a “journal”: an often melancholic visualaccount of Bachardy’s sustained, daily interactions, and engagements with his sitters.
About this dialog Bachardy has written:
“I used to believe that my habit of intense, sustained effort without pre-planning or breaks was necessitated by my insistence on working from life and trying to still the fleeting moment. But lately I have come to realize that this insistence itself has a deeper, more complicated source. My method of work is an expression of my own peculiar psychological make-up, of my need to challenge myself and my sitter (to add a dash of sadism to my masochism—always spicier when the two are combined and shared) with my stringent demands on the nerves, patience, and stamina of us both. Stretching them to extremes and beyond increases my desire to penetrate further into the dense realm of hard peering. And the circumstance itself—two people sitting alone for hours on end, sometimes looking long and deeply into each other’s eyes as the day’s light fades… I know of no other experience in life that matches it.”
A new issue of White Columns’ xerox publication ‘The W.C.’ featuring an extensive introduction by Bachardy and an illuminating essay by James White, Executive Director of the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, will be available from the gallery, price $1.
Don Bachardy (b. 1934) lives and works in Los Angeles. Don Bachardy began drawing as a child in Los Angeles, and by his teen years he already had specialized in portraits, partly attributing his interest in people to his passion for the movies. While a student at UCLA in 1952, Bachardy met the writer Christopher Isherwood, and the two men began a relationship that lasted until Isherwood’s death in 1986. It was Isherwood who encouraged Bachardy to pursue a formal art education, and he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and at the Slade School of Art in London. Bachardy’s portraits are always completed in one session that may last from two to six hours, and they are signed by the sitter. “For more than 35 years I have obeyed my early, instinctive urge to complete each work I do in a single sitting,” Bachardy says. “The departure of my sitter is like the breaking of a spell. I never alter any detail of the work I’ve done once the sitting has ended.” Bachardy’s first solo exhibition took place at the Redfern Gallery in London in 1961. His work resides in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the M.H. de Young Museum of Art in San Francisco, UCLA, the Huntington Museum, the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University, Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Seven books of Bachardy’s works have been published: October (in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood 1980); One Hundred Drawings (1983); Drawings of the Male Nude (1985); 70 X 1 (1983); Last Drawings of Christopher Isherwood (1991); and Short Cuts, The Screenplay (1993), and Stars in My Eyes (2000.)