REVIEW: The Intimate Abstractions of Franklin Williams, an Unsung Master from the ’60s

September 1, 2017

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — In 1963 Franklin Williams was under the tutelage of John Coplans, the famed art critic and photographer. Both were in their formative years. Williams was in the midst of matriculating at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now the California College of the Arts). Coplans was a guest lecturer at CCAC, still a decade away from taking the reins of Artforum. CCAC at the time was split between the two great factions of mid-century Bay Area art making: figuration and Abstract Expressionism. Williams idly experimented with the latter as his classes required, painting big abstractions that were lackluster. Absent was a connection between him and the art. Coplans sparked a major shift for the young painter when he discovered some pieces Williams never intended his teachers or classmates to see –– abstractions, but far more intimate than either his own work to that point or what anyone else around him was making.

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