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Presents with Secrets

1980 Charles Arnoldi Born: Dayton, Ohio 1946 wood 96 x 96 x 96 in. (243.8 x 243.8 x 243.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Gerald and Katie Peters © 1980, Charles Arnoldi 2001.57A-D Not currently on view

Gallery Label

Arnoldi studied in Los Angeles in the 1970s, when art students were taught that "painting was dead." He felt pressured to do something new among a crowd of cutting-edge artists and found his answer on a Malibu hillside. He and a friend came upon a partly burned orchard where charred trees stood against the skyline. While they harvested fruit, Arnoldi also gathered twigs and branches to take back to his studio.

The lengths of wood reminded him of drawn or painted lines, and Arnoldi realized that he had found a way to emulate his abstract-expressionist heroes. He carefully plotted a network of branches to look like random, crosshatched brushstrokes. Presents with Secrets evokes a painting, a sculpture, a shelter, and a child's ritual of pickup sticks, and conveys a sunny optimism often associated with Southern California culture.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006