A number of explanations have been offered for the increased activity in the creative and performing arts that has burst upon this and other academic communities. Some say it is due to the inwardness of this generation, its close ties to Europe and a national swing to "do it yourself" in culture. While all this is partly true, the best explanation may be the impatience of this generation to live. The emphasis is removed from the old institutions of political activity. Political organizations lived on a myth. One felt a certain self-importance but it didn't make much of a dent in the totality of things. Acting, singing, writing and composing have a different meanin. They are more expressive and more youthful. Furthermore, the arts allow a complete experience of planning and doing with the result an event as authentic as it will ever be, if not so perfect.
To the composers' concerts, drama, and opera, an exhibition of undergraduate art is now added. It is a culmination of a series of House exhibits that took place when the spirit moved. Dudley House is to be congratulated for taking the patriotic and parochial tone out of these affairs making this a college-wide exhibit. If this is continued annually, Dudley will make an important contribution to Harvard life.
The most impressive feature of this exhibit is the number of major talents that it reveals. Unfortunately a few artists whose work adorns magazine covers and theatrical stages are missing, however this is no one's fault but their own. It is hoped they will be less reticent in the future. Painters Yoshaiki Shimizu and Alden Christie, as well as sculptor Jose Buscaglia, particularly distinguish themselves by their technical skill. In Shimizu's The Climbers the mesage is forceful and direct. The figures are painted in a monumental, realistic style. Bright, clear colors convey the brilliance of the sun's reflection and massive forms suggest in their postures strength and determination. One disturbing detail is the distortion of the faces. Perhaps also the picture is to slick, too much like a "Come to Switzerland" poster. Much of Shimizu's work like this picture owes a debt to Shahn.
Alden Christie has unfortunately marred by overstatement his painting The Kitchen. This picture would make its point perfectly without the nude on the far left which adds tooo sharp a sense of ugliness to the composition. The background is painted masterfully. Christie is also at home in a more abstract vein. His Carnival, in the manner of Jackson Pollock, is spattered with gaiety and cleverness.
Of the less technically adequate paintings, I like Jonathan Beecher's Slug Two. It is an imaginative tour de force, creating a colorful world of humorous spooks and goblins. A very different key is struck by William Reed in a cool mountain landscape that shows a sensitive handling of color and light.
In her watercolors and drawings Greenman has command of a definite style. It seemed to me however that she strives too much for a decorative effect. There is something about her crowd figures reminiscent of Reginald Marsh, without his strength or skill. Anne Lord's pen and ink drawings of horses would be better done on white paper. Though the draughtsmanship is wiry and supple. Uninteresting and imprecise line, undermines the efforts of Judy Kuznets to create an effect with watercolor wash over ink. I found her Accordion Player and Mother and Child shapeless to my imagination. The idea, however, is a good one. Yoshi Shimizu's ink drawings are among his most thoughtful and expressive works.
Jose Buscaglia's sculpture marks him as one of the most proficient and talented of this group of artists. The bust of Don Jose is imposing. The surface treatment is unusual and very expressive. Childbirth of a Country Woman, also in plaster, is as much a technical achievement but far less successful. The moods of the two figures, the man and woman are so opposed that it is impossible to believe that that two human beings could be in proximity. The kneeling man's expression of contemplation is quite out of keeping with the shriek of pain that writhes from the peasant woman's body as she brings forth life.
Of the two metal pieces made from welded scrap iron Donald Knudsen's After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes surely has the more pretentious title but Joel Blatt's Death in Venice is the more successful effort, very effectively creating a scene and mood.