Chronology

1932
Robert Craig Kauffman is born on March 31, 1932 to Kurtz Kauffman and Pansy Margaret Buchanan Kauffman.

1946
Enrolls in Eagle Rock High School alongside his childhood friend, Walter Hopps.

1949
Has his first experience of modern architecture at the home of Grant and Helen Dahlstrom, designed by John Lautner. He is also introduced to the work and writings of Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy, specifically the book, The New Vision.

1950
The Progressive Architectural Forum awards Kauffman second prize for his entry. After graduating from Eagle Rock High School in the spring, he enrolls directly into the University of Southern California School of Architecture in Los Angeles.

1951
Exhibits paintings in his first group show at the Landau Galleries in Los Angeles, California. He sells one painting.

1952
Transfers from USC to the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Art.

1953
Art critic Jules Langsner favorably reviews Kauffman’s first solo exhibition, at the Landau Galleries, for Art News magazine.

1954
Walter Hopps and Shirley Neilsen, Ben and Betty Bartosh, Michael Scoles and Kauffman organize Syndell Studio in Brentwood, where Kauffman exhibits paintings in informal art shows. Kauffman also uses this space as his studio.

1955
Together with Walter Hopps and Jim Newman, Kauffman organizes Action 1, an exhibition presented at the merry-go-round on the Santa Monica Pier.

Earns his Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA and enrolls in their graduate program.

1956
Receives his Masters of Arts degree from UCLA.

Moves to New York City for three months and becomes a regular at the Cedar Street Tavern, where he meets Franz Kline and Milton Resnick. He then departs for six months in Europe, spending time in Paris, the south of France, and England. In Paris, he takes French classes at the Alliance Française and meets the artists Sam Francis and Joan Mitchell.

While Kauffman is abroad, Bob Alexander, Walter Hopps, and Ed Kienholz organize Action 2 at the Now Gallery.

1957
Returns to the United States and moves to San Francisco. He befriends other San Francisco artists, including Robert Morris, but moves back to Los Angeles after four months.

Rents a studio west of Sawtelle Boulevard in Los Angeles, which he shares with Ed Moses for nine months. After Moses leaves, Robert Irwin moves in to share the space.

Walter Hopps and Ed Kienholz open the Ferus Gallery at 736a N. La Cienega Blvd. The debut exhibition, Objects on the New Landscape Demanding of the Eye is a survey of new abstract painting in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Jules Langsner reviews the exhibition, singling out Kauffman for praise.

1958
Exhibits in his first solo show at the Ferus Gallery, titled Paintings and Drawings. Kauffman described these works as coming from “funny combinations of influences: I mean Mondrian and Duchamp and dada and biomorphism and abstract expressionism all at once.”

Moves to San Francisco where he shares an apartment with Jim Newman in the Pacific Heights neighborhood. Among his friends and colleagues there are Jay DeFeo, Sonia Gechtoff, Wally Hedrick, James Kelly, and Michael McClure.

Exhibits in his first solo show at Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco, California.

1959
Lives in Copenhagen and Paris, and travels to Ibiza. In Paris, he stays in an apartment next door to the famed Beat Hotel. While abroad, he meets the abstract artists Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Motherwell, as well as Darthea Speyer, who will later become his Paris dealer.

1960
Exhibits in his second solo show at Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco, California.

1961
Returns to the United States after a year and a half abroad.

Views Billy Al Bengston’s airbrushed paintings, including his motorcycle logo works, at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York.

Takes inspiration from the erotic shapes found in Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogues. Billy Al Bengston teaches him how to use a compressor and spray gun, and Kauffman begins to apply paint in thin, spray-painted layers.

Completes his teaching credential from UCLA.

1962
Exhibits in his second solo show at the Ferus Gallery.

1963
The Ferus Gallery includes Kauffman in a group exhibition titled Altoon, Bell, Bengston, DeFeo, Irwin, Kauffman, Lobdell, Mason, Moses, Price, Ruben, Ruscha.

Attends the opening of the first retrospective of Marcel Duchamp at the Pasadena Art Museum, organized by Walter Hopps.

1964
Seeks the help of technicians at Planet Plastics in Paramount to learn how to design and fabricate vacuum-molded plastic works. Paints the low-relief wall pieces using a spray gun and air compressor to achieve intense, translucent colors.

1965
Exhibits his most recent series in a solo show at the Ferus Gallery. Arnold Glimcher of Pace Gallery in New York sees this show, and includes Kauffman in his first exhibition in New York City, a group show called 5 at Pace.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, under the Directorship of Rene d’Harnoncourt, acquires a 1964 work titled Red-Blue through the Larry Aldrich Acquisition fund.

1966
The Robert Fraser Gallery, London, features Kauffman in his first group exhibition in Europe, titled Los Angeles Now.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art acquires a work titled Yellow-Orange, 1965, using Contemporary Art Council funds.

1967
Exhibits in his first solo show in New York, titled Recent Work, at Pace Gallery.

Participates in his first national group exhibition, Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture 1967, at the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois.

His work is then included in the group exhibition A New Aesthetic at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, D.C. Art historian Barbara Rose organizes the exhibition, and writes the catalogue essay.

Kauffman’s work is featured in the Cinquième Biennale de Paris, at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, with works by Lyn Foulkes, John McCracken, and Ed Ruscha. The show travels to the Pasadena Art Museum at the end of the year.

Begins his teaching career at the University of California, Irvine as a lecturer. He eventually accepts tenure, and teaches there for 35 years.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, acquires Untitled, 1966, as the gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, acquires Untitled, 1966, as the gift of the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation.

1968
Exhibits in Los Angeles 6, at the Vancouver Art Gallery, British Columbia, with Larry Bell, Ron Davis, Robert Irwin, Ed Kienholz, and John McCracken. The show is organized by John Coplans.

Spends the summer in Berkeley, California to teach the summer session at UC Berkeley. While there, he begins work on a series of horizontal, oval wall pieces spray-painted with iridescent colors. Returns to Los Angeles in the fall. About the works of this period, Kauffman said “I wanted it to kind of pulsate and be very vague about what it was […]. I liked this kind of fuzzy, imprecise quality and this idea of lighting with one light, and having the thing sort of dematerialize.”

The Pasadena Art Museum acquires Untitled, 1968 from Irving Blum Gallery as a museum purchase through its Fellows Acquisitions Fund.
The Tate Gallery, Liverpool, England, acquires Untitled, 1967, presented anonymously through the American Federation of Arts.

1969
Exhibits in his second solo show at Pace Gallery, titled Wall Sculptures, as well as in a solo show at Irving Blum Gallery, Los Angeles.

Renews his long-time friendship with Robert Irwin, who is also exploring the principles of perception. Creates a series of draped acrylic plastic works that he spray-paints with translucent colors. The works are suspended approximately one foot from the wall, and cast colored shadows. Speaking later about these works, the artist notes that, “I got involved with the shadows on the wall. Irwin was doing shadows on the wall at that time, and we talked about shadows. I liked them. Of course, mine are highly colored because I put all those bright colors on there. They almost did a reverse thing. The loop comes out towards you at the top, and then the shadow is a reverse. When they’re really well lit, it’s very tricky: what’s the shadow and what’s the piece. It does a real weird thing with the wall. That’s the first time I really got involved with what it was going to do with the wall – dematerializing the wall in some way.”

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquires Untitled, 1968, through an anonymous gift.
The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, acquires Untitled, 1969 through the Art Center Acquisition Fund.

1970
The Pasadena Art Museum exhibits Kauffman in his first solo museum show, Craig Kauffman. The show is organized by John Coplans, Director of the museum. It travels to the University of California, Irvine.

Moves to New York City, and exhibits in his third solo show at Pace Gallery, titled Recent Work. While in New York, he teaches at the School of Visual Arts, and spends much of his time with Robert Morris.

The Art Institute of Chicago acquires Le Mur s’en Va I, 1969 through its 20th Century Purchase Fund. A. James Speyer is senior curator at the time of the acquisition.
The Pasadena Art Museum acquires Untitled, 1969 through the artist’s gift and Untitled, 1965, through the gift of Vivian C. Kauffman Rowan.

1972
Exhibits in his first solo show in Europe, at Galerie Darthea Speyer, Paris, France and has his fourth solo exhibition at Pace Gallery, titled New Work.

Begins a series of paintings with exposed wood, stretched canvas, and muslin. He continues to experiment with this style through 1976. Later, Kauffman would draw a parallel between these works and his earlier plastic pieces, saying “I’ve always had this idea that I wanted the structure to show somehow, […] for the painting to be self-supporting. All the plastic paintings, even though the early ones had frames on them, all plastic things are self-supporting. In other words, they’re a shape that supports itself.”

1973
Galerie Darthea Speyer holds a second solo exhibition, featuring recent works.

1974
The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, acquires Untitled, 1968, through the gift of Eugene M. Schwartz.

1976
Exhibits in his third solo show at Galerie Darthea Speyer. The show includes paintings that Kauffman worked on while he was living in Paris between 1975 and 1976.

Exhibits in a solo show at Robert Elkon Gallery, New York.

Comsky Gallery holds a solo exhibition of Kauffman’s work in Los Angeles, California.

Michael Auping interviews Kauffman for the “Los Angeles Art Community: Group Portrait” project conducted by the UCLA Oral History Program, and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

1977
Begins to paint on synthetic silk after returning from France to teach the spring semester at UCI.

Spends three weeks traveling in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore.

1978
Exhibits recent works at the ARCO Center for Visual Art, Los Angeles, in a show organized by curator and critic Melinda Terbell Wortz. In the exhibition catalogue, Wortz draws connections between his early plastic wall reliefs and the paintings on display, citing his continuing concerns with light and perception.

1979
Moves to New York, into a loft space on Bond Street in Soho.

Exhibits work in a solo show at BlumHelman Galley in New York titled Recent Paintings shortly after his arrival.

Exhibits work in a solo show at Janus Gallery, Los Angeles, California.

Grapestake Gallery holds a solo exhibition of Kauffman’s work in San Francisco, California.

1981
Acquires a new loft apartment in New York at 31-33 Mercer Street, and establishes a studio there.

The La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art features Kauffman in a large scale survey exhibition titled Craig Kauffman: A Comprehensive Survey 1957-1981. The show travels to the Elvehjem Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin; the Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia; and the Oakland Art Museum, Oakland, California.

Six works from the 1960s are included in the exhibition Art in Los Angeles-Seventeen Artists in the Sixties, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, organized by Maurice Tuchman.

1982
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California, acquires Untitled, 1969, through the gift of Irving Blum.

1983
Visits Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he sees examples of the Shakers’ hand-made furniture. The spare forms of the chairs and stools make their way into his paintings.

1984
Travels to Asheville, North Carolina to visit his friend Allen Lynch, who has become a Zen master. Lynch owns a collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century Japanese ceramics, which Kauffman admires. His paintings of 1984 and 1985 include highly stylized images of tea bowls and trays of sushi.

1985
Exhibits his recent work in a solo show at Asher/Faure Gallery, in Los Angeles, California.

Earlier works are included in the University of Southern California’s group exhibition, Sunshine and Shadow: Recent Paintings in Southern California at the Fisher Gallery, organized by Susan C. Larsen.

1986
Departs for an extended tour of Asia, traveling to Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.

Begins work on a new series of paintings on silk. The forms in these works derive from his long-standing interest in architecture.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California, acquires Untitled, 1963, through the gift of Pace Gallery.

1987
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, features Kauffman in a solo exhibition titled Craig Kauffman: Wall Reliefs from the Late 1960s, organized by adjunct curator Richard Armstrong.

1988
Exhibits his recent paintings in a solo show at Asher/Faure Gallery.

1989
Begins work on a new series. Using flowing gestures on large panels of silk, he draws on imagery from the Philippines, including volcanos and traditional architectural forms. Many of these works are divided vertically, like Asian scrolls, and painted in contrasting colors.

1990
Los Angeles curator Noriko Fujinami includes Kauffman in the group show Abstractions, 5 Artists at the Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, Japan. The show travels to the Museum of Modern Art, Shiga, Japan and the Hara Museum of Art, Hara, Japan.

Produces a small series of new works in plastic.

1994
Retires from teaching at the University of California, Irvine, and moves part-time to the Philippines.

Begins working on a series of works in plastic. These pieces open out from the wall like flowers, with intensely iridescent centers, and delicately spray-painted surfaces.

1995
Exhibits his recent plastic works in a solo show at the Patricia Faure Gallery, Los Angeles, California, where they are favorably reviewed by Michael Duncan for Art in America.

1997
Kauffman is included in the group exhibition Sunshine and Noir: Art in L.A. 1960-1997 at the Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebaek, Denmark, under the Directorship of Lars Nitve. The show travels to: the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany; the Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli, Italy; and the University of California, Los Angeles at the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California.

2001
Begins a series of oval plastic wall reliefs, which he has fabricated in San Luis Obispo. He spray-paints these curved acrylic forms with pearlescent colors, causing them to radiate reflected light.

2004
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California, includes Kauffman in the group exhibition A Minimal Future? Art as Object 1958-1968.

2006
The Centre Pompidou, Paris, includes Kauffman in the group exhibition Los Angeles 1955 – 1985: The Birth of an Art Capital.

The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, features Kauffman in Translucence: Southern California Art from the 1960s and 1970s.

Begins a new series of works in plastic with octagonal perimeters, and works on them in Los Angeles. Painted in misty, iridescent colors, the pieces continue the artist’s investigations into light and perception.

2008
Exhibits in a solo show at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, California, titled Craig Kauffman: A Drawing Retrospective. The show is organized by Jay Belloli.

Moderna Museet, Stockholm includes Kauffman in the group exhibition Los Angeles 1957-1968.

2010
David Zwirner Gallery, New York, features Kauffman in the group show Primary Atmospheres: Works from California 1960-1970.

Craig Kauffman passes away at home in Angeles City, Philippines on May 10, 2010.

2011
Kauffman’s work is featured in five group exhibitions that are held as part of the Getty Research Institute’s Pacific Standard Time Initiative. These include: 46 N. Los Robles: A History of the Pasadena Art Museum at the Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, California; Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1945-1963, at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California; Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California, 1964-1971, at the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California; Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California; and Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California.

2012
Kauffman is included in the group exhibition Kunst in Los Angeles: 1950 – 1980 at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, Germany. The show is a reconceived and expanded version of Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970.