Thursday, February 12, 2009

George Tooker

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is holding a George Tooker Retrospective January 30th through April 5th 2009. George Tooker (b. 1920), classified as an American Magical Realist, paints in egg tempera. Among the exhibition images on the PAFA site is Subway, which is one of my favorite Tooker paintings, on loan from the Whitney Museum.

Tooker's "public protest paintings" are what first attracted me: Children & Spastics, Government Bureau, Landscape With Figures, Teller, Waiting Room II, and Corporate Decision.

His use of pattern makes these particular favorites: The Chess Game (checkerboard floor with geometric border), Supermarket (repeat diagonal patterns), Gypsy (circular patterns like old tin ceilings), Red Carpet (border), Three Women (repeat squares), Woman With Oranges (blue and white tiles), Pot of Aloes (shape of leaves echoed by tiles behind them), and Odalisque (rug).

And then there are a few that I admire purely for their strangeness of beauty: Doors, Mirror IV, Lantern, Farewell, Landscape With Figures, Mirror I, and White Wall. You can see them all in Thomas H. Garver's book George Tooker. The reviews of the book on Amazon are informative.

Also, there's a New York Times review of the retrospective's New York showing at the National Academy Museum. And another review from The Brooklyn Rail. The Hirshhorn Museum has The Letter Box. . . first time seeing this one! And here's a lithograph of Mirror I from the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

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