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David Park, Painter: Nothing Held Back Hardcover – September 16, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review


Praise for David Park, Painter

"This clearly is a fresh, new take on painting from an author who knows Park's work from the beginning.  I warn you: once you start reading, you won't put this book down, absorbed by the intermixing trance of memory, of her intimate understanding of the art process, and her close stories that illuminate her father’s strong character. Original deep insights enliven the reader's experience of what it is to create honest beauty in this world.  The text is juxtaposed with exquisite visual samples of David Park's work. I assign this book to my students.  I want to assign it to the whole country."—Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and The Great Spring

"'As if the colors took my gaze for a ride' is how Helen Park Bigelow recalls her instinctive response to the paintings of her father David Park's brief abstract phase, while seeing, in likewise perfect accuracy, his better-known figurative works as "heavy with being." The "ride" taken in Ms. Bigelow's family memoir is fueled steadily by eloquence and wide sympathy, as well as just plain good storytelling. Thus is an intimate account of this important artist fleshed out with warm attentiveness to not just the development of the central character and his works but an entire milieu."—Bill Berkson, author of Expect Delays and Homage to Frank O’Hara
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Helen Park Bigelow is the daughter of David Park, as well as a writer and potter. She and husband Edward B. Bigelow live in Hawaii, where she writes and teaches.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Hills; 1St Edition edition (September 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555953204
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555953201
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1.2 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Seed on December 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
David Park the man, and David Park the painter both come alive in his daughter's intimate memoir. For those who admire Park's paintings, reading this book will answer many questions about his background and his character. As author Helen Park Bigelow candidly points out, there are some mysteries that remain, but the book is the most complete portrait of Park that will ever be published. It is also the story of a marriage and of the family life of a man just selfish enough to be a painter, and of his devoted wife who overcame her own problems to care for him at the end of his life. Keep in mind, this isn't a book that has a critical tone, but rather a daughter's effort to tell us what she can about a father she always called "David." The chapter describing Park's final show in New York and his death of bone cancer is especially moving and compelling. Park was an American original whose work brought a hint of the anxiety of European expressionism into the American figurative tradition. As Henry Geldzahler once stated, he moved the tradition of the figure in painting forward. David and his works are worth knowing, and this book is a fitting tribute that recalls Park with affection, respect and candor. The book also reproduces many of his works, including a moving selection of the works on paper he completed just prior to his death.
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Format: Hardcover
A half century since his death painter David Park is widely recognized as one of America's most important 20th century painters. David Park, Painter: Nothing Held Back celebrates his life and art, is written by his younger daughter, and provides a survey of her father's life, early death, and painting contributions. It blends memoir with history about life in the bay Area just before and after World war II, supplementing these insights with full-page color reproductions of selected Park works. A 'must' for any serious American painting history collection.
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Helen Park Bigelow's book is a must for anyone interested in 20th century American art. It is not only a joy to look at but Ms. Bigelow's chronicle of her father's too short but very full life gives the reader the feeling of really knowing this remarkable man and great artist David Park. The writing is engaging; warm, funny, sad and her sharing of anecdotes about family and friends such as Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff round out this beautifully produced book.
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David Park is one of the great figurative painters of the 20th century, and his admirers are blessed to have two excellent books recently published about his life and work. Having viewed both books by Bigelow and Boas, I decided to buy this book because it provided far more plates of Park's paintings, which is what I was interested in seeing. That being said, Nancy Boas' book does have a few plates that are not in this book. But when it comes to viewing David Park's body of work, this book shines with superb color plates dispersed throughout, showing Park's development as a painter from his early days, his non-figurative period, his return to figurative painting, and his final figurative work in gouache.
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Format: Hardcover
David Park (March 17, 1911 - September 20, 1960) was a painter and a pioneer of the Bay Area Figurative School of painting during the 1950s, a school of artists he helped form that included Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff. He presence was keenly felt in the formation of the careers of Nathan Oliveira, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, Paul Wonner and Theophilus Brown, and Henry Villiermme. His work was a marriage of abstract style used to create representational paintings: blocks of color became human forms without any pretense of trying to hide the direction he was taking. He loved life and painted his observation of bathers, rowers, people and children in parks and on the street, but most of these impressions he painted from memory while ensconced in his studio.

The Foreword to this rather heft book is by Richard Armstrong who gives a fine overview of the place of Parks in the arena of the Bay Figurative Artists. The book is rich in fine color reproductions of his paintings from throughout his career. The written portion of this near catalogue raisonné is by his daughter Helen Park Bigelow and is more a memoir than a critical approach to the artist's work. But that works very well for Parks the painter, emphasizing his homespun approach to his family, friends and work. His career was brief (he died at age 49 from bone cancer) but the impact he had on the art world is still being measured. This is as solid a book about the artist as is available at present. Grady Harp, May 11
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Written by the daughter of David Park, he being considered by many (including myself) as the best of the Bay Area Figurative Artists of the 1950's and 1960's (Richard Diebenkorn, Nathan Oliveira, Manuel Neri, Elmer Bischoff, etc.), this biography offers a splendid 'behind the scenes' look at a great painter, a master of color, and is lavishly illustrated with his works. Its only sin, totally excusable, is an occasional bit of over-sentimentality, but then again, it's the voice of an admiring daughter. Five stars, five stars, and more of same.
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This book is one of only two (aside from catalogues) about the life and work of David Park. It was written by one of his daughters, so there is first-hand, more personal information about Park's life. Park was the founder of the California Figurative School of painting, and a major influence on the work of Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Brown, Manuel Neri, and others. It contains photos of many of Park's major paintings, drawings, and gouaches. Although Park died at he age of 49 in 1960, he produced a large body of powerful abstracted figurative work, especially during his mature period of about ten years. Park's work has attracted more attention recently and been evaluated as of major importance in 20th century art. This handsome book is a must-read fro anyone interested in learning about this painter's life and work in depth.
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