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Peter Saul Suburban Houses II, 1969
Peter Saul Marfak, 1965
Peter Saul Golden Gate Bridge, 1966
Peter Saul Cash, 1967
Peter Saul Untitled (Superman Punishment Study), 1963
Peter Saul Lake Tahoe, 1966
Peter Saul Modern Home (ABCD), 1966
Peter Saul Modern Home, 1966
Peter Saul Suburban Houses I, 1969
Peter Saul Untitled (Convertible), c. 1966
Peter Saul Show Announcement
Peter Saul Show Announcement (continued)

Press Release

During February and March, the George Adams Gallery will present Peter Saul: Suburbia, a selection of works by Peter Saul dating from 1965-1969.  Upon his return from an 8-year sojourn in Europe, Saul, who was born in San Francisco, settled in Mill Valley, California in 1965.  From 1965 until approximately 1972, Saul produced a series of works that featured images of Northern California suburbia--modern homes, cars, roads, the Golden Gate Bridge, and palm trees -- rendered in the artist's characteristic Day-Glo colors and cartoon inflected style.

Peter Saul: Suburbia features 10 related drawings and one large-scale painting. Produced at the same time as the protest paintings, which garnered Saul a reputation as a political painter, the suburbia series present the banality of Saul's everyday surroundings as a source of social critique. As David Zack observed in his 1969 Artnews article "That's Saul, Folks," "[In] Saul's new series of suburban houses the color and outline keep the scene from seeming macabre.  It is more the dispassionate humor of Magritte than the hysteria of Ensor." Included in the current exhibition, for example, is Suburban House II, c. 1969, which depicts an inter-connected community of luxury modern homes rendered in electric pinks and greens, while Suburban Houses I, with similar imagery, has the addition of real-estate values prominently noted next to each house.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Upper Class Lower Class, 1966, a canvas that juxtaposes a superhero couple and a suburbanite couple, surrounded by roads leading nowhere, bridges made of dollar and cent symbols, and rainbow colored houses and buildings.  With a trenchant observation of the social and economic disparity between San Francisco and wealthier Marin County just over the Golden Gate Bridge, Saul plays out his critique in a cartoonish slightly grotesque style.  Other works echo this theme, including two drawings Cash, 1967-68 and Marfak, 1965 which focus on California's car culture with images of gas stations and gas guzzling automobiles.

Three of the works also include extraneous drawing a revealing look at Saul's compositional and conceptual process.  In Modern Home ABCD, c. 1966, for example, a red Gumby figure foregrounds a fully rendered cut-away view of a suburban home, which is flanked by a swimming pool, a tree-house, and a low flying airplane all drawn in faint pencil.  Similarly, Modern Home, c. 1969, shifts between simple line drawing and full color depicting several homes all architecturally styled on stilts to accommodate "the view" from a hill or ocean bluff.  With characteristic humor and wit, Saul's modern homes reveal the illogical construction of high-style Marin County architecture.

Exhibition Checklist

Main Gallery
(clockwise from front desk)

Suburban Houses II, c. 1969
crayon, paint, and pencil on cardboard
34 x 51 inches
PSd 127

Lake Tahoe, c.1969
colored pencil, marker, gouache on museum board
30 x 40 inches
PSd 134

Golden Gate Bridge, c.1966
ink, oil pastel, marker on paper
40 x 60 inches
PSd 116
Collection of John Carlin, New York, NY

Suburban Houses I, 1969
colored pencil, marker, gouache on museum board
39 1/2 x 45 1/2 inches
PSd 135

Upper Class, Lower Class, 1966
acrylic, ink on canvas
68 3/4 x 77 1/4 inches
PSp 113

Modern Home (ABCD), c. 1966
marker, colored pencil, pen on museum board
40 x 51 inches
PSd 138

Side Gallery

Cash, 1967-68
crayon, collage, and ink on museum board
30 x 40 inches
PSd 129

Marfak, 1965
crayon, ink on cardboard
30 x 40 inches
PSd 132

Modern Home, c. 1969
marker, gouache, colored pencil on museum board
40 x 51 inches
PSd 137

Untitled (Convertible), c. 1966
marker, colored pencil, pen on museum board
30 x 40 inches
PSd 139