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Hidden Lights: Art-World Professionals Answer a Question—Who Are the Most Underrated Artists Today?

By Lawrence Rinder

March 21, 2017

LAWRENCE RINDER, Director and Chief Curator, University of California Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California

Irwin Kremen, And Still Is, 2001.
©Irwin Kremen/Courtesy Black Mountain College

Although interest in abstraction is undergoing a resurgence, many highly deserving artists still haven’t enjoyed adequate attention, including Frederick Hammersley, whose work runs the gamut from haunting portraiture and hard-edge abstraction to algorithmic computer-generated compositions; Fanny Sanín, a senior Colombian painter of subtle color geometries; Irwin Kremen, a Black Mountain College–schooled maker of exquisite small collages of found paper fragments; Ralph Coburn, who married concrete abstraction with participatory aesthetics years before others like Hélio Oiticica began exploring this fertile terrain; Rosie Lee Tompkins, whose quilts capture the essential hum and pulse of being; Frederick Kiesler, a visionary 20th-century architect and artist whose “galaxies”—multipart irregularly shaped canvases of the 1940s and ’50s—anticipate by many decades later experiments in “deconstructive” painting; Nathaniel Dorsky, a San Francisco–based filmmaker who deserves to be considered one of the greatest abstract artists of our time; Charles Howard, who bridged biomorphism and Precisionism to create strange, jewel-like paintings; and Todd Bura, a young artist whose paintings somehow manage to break new ground in the exploration of painterly form.