Clayton Pinkerton

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Clayton Pinkerton Biography

Post War California artist, Clayton Pinkerton studied at Carmel Art Institute and the California College of Arts and Crafts, receiving his B.F.A. in 1952, and M.F.A. in 1953.  From 1957 to 1958, he was a Fulbright Scholar, and from 1960 was a Professor of Fine Arts at the California College of Arts and Crafts and also taught at The Richmond Art Center in California.

In 1958, after nearly a decade of Turneresque, landscape-formed imagery, Clayton turned to the human figure. This is seen by some as the first Bay Area emergence of Figurative/Narrative. For Pinkerton, the human form was not merely a vehicle for painterly attitudes, but the basis of all content and direction. The content that began to emerge, as Pinkerton was influenced by Munch and others, dealt with the issues of death, family, social consciousness and politics. Supporters of Pinkerton’s earlier work felt deserted. Critics made connections to Pop Art, however, Pinkerton was influenced primarily by the verbal element of Duchamp’s work. Pinkerton’s titles display that interest in the words and their impact on the visual imagery. Rather than seeing the word as destructive to visual imagery, which was so much the philosophy of the ’50s and of Abstract Expressionism, for Pinkerton the written word became a liberator and component part of the whole process. All this intensity, soon started taking its toll. By 1971 he stopped painting for almost a year. It was a time for reintroducing some of the form of the 1950s landscape period and of more idyllic ideals. The figure was not to disappear for long, but its new context opened up a greater scope of work that is ironic, satirical, humorous and laid-back.

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