NEWS-CALL BULLETIN | The Unliked 'Child'

Art, or Grave-Robber’s Nightmare?


A grisly bare figure called “Child” has become a storm center of controversy over the San Francisco Art Assn. exhibit now drawing to a close at de Young Museum here.

The sculpture, which has turned all eyes and some stomaches in the museum gallery, is the work of Bruce Conner, a San Francisco artist presently visiting his home town in Kansas.

THE FIGURE is molded largely of wax, and has been fixed to a wooden high chair (described by one museum attendant as an “excellent period piece”) by a web of moth-eaten nylon.

Conner’s “Child,” labeled as composed of “various materials,” is something out of a grave-robber’s nightmare.

The head is tilted back, mouth agape, a few snaggle teeth showing. The right hand and left leg are missing. Stumps are where the limbs should be.

The arms are nailed to the chair, and there is a hole in the skull.

The “materials” bound to the figure are indeed “various” – they could have been supplied by a washroom swamper.

Public reaction to Conner’s work was described by one museum official as “not very favorable.”

SUCH FAVORABLE comment as has been produced was epitomized by an observer, who said:

“Well life isn’t all roses and sunshine, you know.”

One fugitive from Bay Meadows race track who happened to pass through the gallery said “it reminds me of my horse stumbling down the stretch.”

The exhibit, which closes Sunday, was assembled from Art Association members’ “artist’s choice.”

CONNER PICKED his wax “enfant terrible” at the last minute, too late to be catalogued in the published list.

The show is the first comprehensive display of works from the association’s newly formed Art Bank, financed by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Paintings and sculpture in the bank are contributed by the artists and made available to schools and galleries of the Bay Area. 

SURROUNDING Conner’s “Child” are such avant grade expressions as Sam Tchakalian’s “Summit Meeting,” a collage of toilet tissue; Art Grant’s “An Intuitive Discovery of a Profound Universal Phenomenon” which resembles a desiccated sting ray mounted on a broomstick; Seymour Lock’s “Wood and Metal,” a piece of burnt piling studded with nails, and Ariel Parkinson’s “Like Doors Opening, Like Mirrors,” a series of nude figures and possibly the most intelligent work of the lot.