MOCA, THE CURVE | Artists on Art, Bruce Conner's Shrine to SEÑORITA (1962)

Bruce Conner's three-dimensional assemblage was inspired by the bright colors and religious iconography the artist saw while living in Mexico. Incorporating materials as varied as red glitter paper, nylon stockings, and long black hair, the work creates an image that is held together more by emotion and memory than figuration. California assemblage artist George Herms discusses his friend Conner's inspiration.

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SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE | The Beats—More Than Nostalgia

It was a bit like old home week as three pioneers of the Funk esthetic gathered Thursday amid raw abstract paintings and assemblages of derelict objects to discuss a landmark exhibition of “Beat Generation” art at the San Francisco Museum.

“It feels funny to look back at all this stuff,” said Wally Berman, the Los Angeles artist who was one of the founders of the funk assemblages, as he examined a display of remnants from issues of “Semina,” a hand-assembled portfolio of art and poetry which he initiated in the mid-’50s.

Bruce Conner, who outraged more conservative segments of the San Francisco art world with his violent constructions in the late ’50s, and later achieved international recognition as a filmmaker, opined that the exhibition was a spinoff of the current “nostalgia craze.”

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WICHITA EAGLE AND BEACON MAGAZINE | Art or Junk? – Wichitan’s Works Stir Controversy

Scene: Mexico 1962. Setting: Art museum. Action? Mexican laughingly viewing collages and assemblages in the first such exhibit in their country as they step through marbles. 

Flashback: United States: “The Child,” in morbid reproduction, brings cries of “shocking” and “wild.”

Art critic suggests that nurse stand by in anticipation of the inevitable shock which will come to “The Child’s” viewers.

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SIEMPRE! | New Directions in Contemporary Art

On the opening day of the Conner exhibition (in the Antonio Souza Gallery) the artist displayed a self-conscious posture by opening a suitcase containing thousands of marbles which ran over the floor of the small, narrow salon. The surprised public didn't know where to look. On the walls were hung a series of objects composed of elements of discarded trash. Medicine bottles, old cardboard boxes, fur, trivial reproductions from magazines, nylons, broken glass, hair, candles, etc. created a hodgepodge of screaming colors and incoherent sensations. They seemed to be shouting desperately, "Down with the aesthetic of the museums and galleries. Down with all the pretty pictures which are lies. The truth, here you have it."

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EXCELSIOR | Bruce Conner's Exhibition

"...One sees a symbolism unsuitable for minors. This is Bruce Conner’s exhibition of 'sketches', montages, and 'assemblages' at the Jacobo Glantz Gallery (Geneva 70, 1st floor).

The work gives an impression of antiquity, murkiness, poorly disguised obscenity, and dalliance in garbage. There is a gloomy lack of imagination without escape whatsoever."

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ARTS Magazine | Review of Bruce Conner Show at Alan Gallery NYC

Outside a fat man’s clothing store in this city is a sign proclaiming, among other things, that there would be no war if all the world were fat. Not a particularly original idea, but it might be worth bearing in mind in any future attempt at world creating. It might also be a good plan, next time around, to endow Good with some of the fatal allure that Evil has, and which is so alarmingly evident in these sculptures. Actually, there are only two pieces of true sculpture; the rest are collages, and assemblages of miscellaneous items fused into horrendous reliefs and free-standing objects, all of which exude a rampaging, cancerous life. So good are they that the identity of the ingredients is obliterated, and it requires some intellectual effort to discern the lampshades, jewelry, feathers, etc., that created this atmosphere of decay.

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LOS ANGELES TIMES | Exhibit of Junk Wins Art Show Prize

SAN FRANCISCO –  “The Box” is made of a curious collection of “meaningless junk,” including bits of nylon stockings, old boards, tin cans and wax, according to Lynda McNeur, a San Francisco artist.

Done by Bruce Conner also of San Francisco, it won first prize among 36 entries in the Church World Service art exhibit at the General Assembly meeting of the National Council of Churches.

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BATMAN GALLERY Opening Announcement

Batman Gallery will open on November 3, 1960. You are cordially invited to attend.

Bruce Conner, the artist who did the infamous CHILD, a sculpture of wax, silk stockings and wood, exhibited at the De Young Museum and reproduced in local and national newspapers, will have the inaugural show at the Batman Gallery. His new black-wax and collage sculptures, collages, and paintings show intense grappling with the harmony of pure beauty and the breakthrough to a fiery consciousness of human injustice, and a deep anarchic humor. The show is monumental and extremely shocking. A new lyricism in art.

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Farther Out Thank Any Other Gallery | News Call Bulletin

Of course Conner is Conner, or should I say Conner is Conner is Conner. Yes, that fits the dadaist atmosphere better.

Having been repulsed by the famous “Child” out at the de Young, I was a bit skeptical about entering a whole roomful of Conners. Might get a case of multiple boogey-man-itis.

BUT, IT DEVELOPS, a roomful of Conner provides some pleasant deviations from such horrors as a wax replica of a dead body at the back of a box.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES | Art: A Wild, but Curious End-of-Season Treat

Bruce Conner’s collage-concoction called “Spider Lady” is made of murderously ripped nylon stockings stretched agonizingly out of kilter by a garter belt in bad need of psychoanalytic treatment, plus a bicycle wheel (a popular motif nowadays) and some other odds and ends, which photographs of nude chorus beauties emerge Ondine-like from the unlovely waves.

Mr. Conner studied at Wichita University, the Kansas City Art Institute, the University of Nebraska and Brooklyn Art School, an all-American background, and he lives in halcyon San Francisco with his wife, happily I am certain. But I cannot help wondering whether Mrs. Conner does not experience moments of unease when confronted by her husband’s “Spider Lady.”

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SF Examiner | Weird "The Child": Sculptor Defies De Young Exhibit

Bruce Conner’s strange and frightful sculpture, “The Child,” is mystifying everybody – both public and experts – at the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. 

But to the San Francisco artist himself, its meaning is plain, according to what he told me when I got hold of him on the telephone.

“Philosophically, I’m a sort of anarchist,” he said. “I don’t favor the idea of government and the pressures of control and refinement that society imposes on the individual. I’m against putting down the free spirit of man.”

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SF Chronicle | It’s Not Murder—It's Art

Artist Bruce Conner was reported somewhere in the wilds of Wichita, Kansas, yesterday, a suitably discreet distance from the furor his work has stirred in the normally sedate M.H. de Young Memorial Museum.

He had chosen to exhibit a waxwork horror in contemporary sculpture entitled simply, “Child,” which appears to be an infant victim of an ax murderer many weeks after the crime.

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NEWS-CALL BULLETIN | The Unliked 'Child'

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.

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SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE | The Batman Makes Its Bow With Modern Junk

"...In one of his constructions, quite properly entitled “Cathedral,” a red electric light bulb winks on and off perpetually. In another – called “The Bride” but oddly reminiscent of Rodin’s statue of Balzac – white candles burn, and their stubs help build the form as each flame burns out.

The effect of the whole is of some magic grotto, full of things that have been put under enchantment and left for years to the bats and spiders, but still alive and waiting to be revivified. The cellars of Bluebeard’s castle are like that – at least in Bartok’s opera – and the basement of the House of Usher must have been full of such objects. If the San Francisco Ballet Company were to do “The Sleeping Beauty,” I hereby nominate Bruce Conner to do the scenery. He has his wacky, odd, fantastic moments, but deep down he is as romantic as any Irishman who ever saw leprechauns in the dark."

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A Violent Exhibit: Gloom Preoccupies the Local Entrants in a De Young Show | SF Examiner

Aside from the violent impact of many abstractions, the works that do offer a recognizable version of the human figure are heavy in gloom. 

The prime example of pessimism is the sculptural tidbit by Bruce Conner, call the “The Child.”

Conner’s little figure is very much like a decayed, mummified corpse. It sits strapped to a highchair. It is swathed in a web of torn old nylon stockings. Its mouth is open and its eyes are blind in a silent cry of horror. Undoubtably the sculptor has formed the figure very cleverly. Yet its net expression is simply awful – like something a ghoul would steal from the graveyard.

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