Wednesday, March 30, 2011

George Tooker

George Tooker has died ... a few days ago at the age of 90; he was a very good painter. 

In the Summer House
24" x 24"    egg tempera     1958
George Tooker
Collection: National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.
I wasn't much aware of his work while I was a student at R.I.S.D. in the l960's, except for the iconic subway painting that's at the Whitney (pasted below). That was the only one I knew about back then, and it's not a favorite of mine. Later on, in the late 1970's and early 1980's, every now and then someone would bring him up, saying there were similarities between his and my work, and I started to pay more attention to his paintings. By then, however, I was already well on the road I've been traveling, so he was never an influence on me, though I've liked and very much admired his work. My only negative criticism is that the narrative is too obviously social commentary at times ... like in the subway painting. I don't care much for paintings with an overt political or social message. That aside, his paintings are truly excellent, beautifully composed and painted, subtle colors.

The Subway
18" x 36"    egg tempera    1950
George Tooker
Collection: Whitney Museum of Art, New York

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quotes

"There is more power in telling little than in telling all."
- Mark Rothko

“The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meanings are unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.”
- Magritte

"Now, the idea is to get everything right -- it's not just color or form or space or line -- it's everything all at once."
- Richard Diebenkorn

“What I am seeking is not the real and not the unreal but rather the unconscious,
the mystery of the instinctive in the human race.”
- Amedeo Modigliani