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Artist Tony DeLap

‘Geometrick' & ‘Haunto'


The artist: Nothing in the “very pleasant growing up” of Tony Delap in rural Northern California of the 1920s and ’30s predicted this son of a trial lawyer would become an artist, let alone a pioneer of West Coast minimalism and optical art. Works by Delap, an arts professor at UC Irvine from 1965 until 1991, are in collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim in New York, as well as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Laguna Art Museum, among others. Southern Californians are familiar with his public sculptures, like “The Big Wave” over Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica and “The Floating Lady IV” at LAX, even if they can’t name the artist. Radius Books last year released a comprehensive volume on the art of DeLap, who lives with his wife, Kathy, in Corona del Mar.

In Delap’s words: I conceived of these two pieces at the same time. When I did them, I put one by itself and then put the other one next to it, and I realized that complicated the situation a bit, so I preferred that … The reason they have these negative, cut-out areas, that comes from my interest in painting, pretty much since the early ’60s, where for me paintings also made reference to sculpture. In other words, I wasn’t just painting in the two dimensions, but I was often cutting back an edge of a painting so that if you were to look across the painting you’ll find that what’s happening is context, and that means that I like that relationship between the wall and the painting. To really see a painting the way I would ideally like it observed, you have to walk across that painting to see it. I say all that because that just happens to be what I do.

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