Two Figures at the Seashore, 1957
Oil on canvas
57 7/8 X 56 7/8 inches
Museum purchase with additional funds provided by the
National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency
Elmer Bischoff is best known for the important role he played with Richard Diebenkorn and David Park in launching the Bay Area Figurative movement, which attained national prominence in the late 1950s and 1960s. Bischoff turned to figurative painting because he believed that it was more accessible than the lofty ideals and gestural excesses of Abstract Expressionism. He continued to make use of the environmental scale and bold, improvisational brushwork associated with that movement, however. The mood of Bischoff's enigmatic Two Figures at the Seashore is ominous; the nude couple appears to be caught in a psychological standoff heightened by the fiery red sky.