Welcome to the Virtual Gallery of Artist Charles Strong

Rancho de Talpa, New Mexico, Studio Home of Charles Strong

From the mid-1940s to the late 1950s, San Francisco and, in particular, the California School of Fine Arts, provided the setting for an important wing of Abstract Expressionism, commonly known as the San Francisco School.  San Francisco Abstract Expressionism differs from the New York version in certain respects.   But what seems to have provided the School with its greartest source of energy was a complete faith in the revolutionary character of its art.

As with the inception of Abstract Expressionism in San Francisco, no single date can designate the movement's close.  Few artists picked up the Abstract Expressionist torch after the 1950s.  Of those artists, Charles Strong remained perhaps the truest to the original ethos of the movement.  A former molybdenum miner from the Colorado Rockies, Strong came to San Francisco in late 1959 and studied at the California School of Fine Arts with Jefferson and Lobdell.  He seems to have absorbed their stubborn committment to painterly abstraction.  His paintings, with their roily surfaces and sooty whites, have the epic presence and vertiginous sweep of work by Strong's predecessors, while his "nocturnes" of the early to mid 1960s were called such because of their vast expanses of scaly blacks and murky browns. (1)

Wharf Road Diptych, 1965-6 Oil on Canvas 91.5" x 132.5"

Upon examination of the broad arc that connects Charles Strong's dark and muscular abstract paintings of the early 1960s with his recent figurative paintings and sculpture, one is impressed both by the sheer range of ideation and achievement evidenced and equally by his dogged, determined committment to basic and hopeful values underlying the art-making process.  It is the belief in the fundamental moral purpose of art that has sustained his career, if one dare invoke a concept so maligned these days by post-modern cynicism.  To work, simply stated, is necessary for Strong, to fulfill personal ambitions and to contribute to the evolving dialogue of visual ideas that helps stimulate and enrich modern life. 

The abiding interest in the materiality of art, the creation of illusion with the ultimate trusting in something made, the shaping of something by hand into a new type of object, provides a natural linkage between Strong's work as a painter and his work in three-dimensional idioms.  One feels that Strong's recent sculpture and painterly figurative works are fully-informed by the long tradition of abstraction preceding them, and by the ongoing ambition to make a difference in our visual culture. (2)

Charles Strong and Marmo with painted ceramic relief of Ezra Pound

The Rancho de Talpa Virtual Gallery aims to present for the first time in an online medium many of the works of Charles Strong.  Different periods, series and media will be found on various pages.  It is the hope of the artist that viewers will both aesthetically enjoy the works thus displayed and find in them something of dignity and worth.

Thank you for visiting Rancho de Talpa!

(1) Landauer, Susan, With an Introduction by Dore Ashton, The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism, Univeristy of California Press, 1996.

(2) Hernandez, Jo Frab, Karlstrom, Paul, J., With an Introduction by Steven A. Nash, Fire and Flux, An Undaunted Vision: The Art of Charles Strong, The Wiegand Gallery, 1998.