It isn't often that a group of major paintings by Robert Rauschenberg, Helen Frankenthaler, Larry Rivers and Robert Motherwell goes on view -- and on sale -- in a commercial gallery here.
But such a show opens today at Kornblatt Gallery, and it is a welcome sight -- a dozen works by a dozen artists who helped catapult America into its preeminent position in mid-20th century art, including Willem de Kooning, Hans Hofmann, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol. Adding an extra dimension is the fact that all works date from the explosive '60s, when new movements like Pop and Color painting were bursting forth and, as Kornblatt recalls in her catalog, "when careers were established overnight in the frenzied demand to be the first to discover, the first to exhibit and the first to collect each new artist." It's enough to rouse a heavy case of nostalgia among art lovers, along with a sharp awareness of how much the art world has changed since then.
Another work of major interest is a 1965 Rauschenberg "combine," a large painting-collage with movable parts called "Sleep for Yvonne Rainer," an avant-garde dancer, now filmmaker. According to the artist, it is one of three works he made in homage to artists he was collaborating with at the time. The only really boring painting in the show is a third-rate piece by Hans Hofmann. Ironically, it is also one of the most expensive items on a price list that runs from five to six figures. The de Kooning, the Morris Louis and one of the two Motherwells have been lent by their owners to round out the show, but are not for sale. The show will be on view at 406 Seventh St. NW, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10:30 to 5:30, until Dec. 10.