The Art of California: Selected Works from the Collection of the Oakland Museum.
Edited by Christina Orr-Cahall. Oakland: The Oakland Museum Art Department and Chronicle Books, 1984. Illustrations. Appendices. Indexes. Bibliographies. 199 Pages. $16.95 Paperback.
This Oakland Museum publication is touted as “easily the most comprehensive work published to date on the history of the visual arts in California.” It consists of a series of essays on California painting and sculpture, prints, crafts and contemporary arts by appropriate members of the Oakland Museum staff, followed by 150 pages of entries of specific artists. Each entry includes biographical information, exhibits, references to works in the Oakland collection, and one reproduction of an item from the museum. So far as it goes, the book is an admirable and affordable publication. The major complaint about The Art of California relates to “truth in advertising.” Is it really about “California” art, or just about “Central California” art? There are no entries for any San Diego artists and relatively few for Southern California artists. The book reflects the usual Bay Area assumption that the Bay Area is California. If that does not bother you, then this is a fine book.