ART REVIEW: GEORGE TOOKER, DC MOORE GALLERY THROUGH JUNE 22,
Responding to Jeannie Lieberman's off hand comment, ".would you like to write art reviews for the Fire Island Sun next summer?", I gave the offer some thought and said "I would" with one stipulation, would she accept the fact that my preference in art is narrow and would only write about representional or realistic art. Here is my first review to kick off the season. Mind you, I am not an art historian, but my reviews will reflect my subjective view of an artist's expression.
The DC Moore Gallery at 724 Fifth Avenue at 57th ST., NYC, began their summer season with a small showing of some works by George Tooker. This show is from April 25th to June 22, 2007
It is not only the thematic explosion of isolation, almost a science fiction view of the world around him that draws me to his work but his masterful use of the egg tempera technique. In coming weeks, I will talk more about egg tempera, what it is, and the artists that excel in using it. Tooker's work commands sales in the six figure mark and if that is enough to impress, the work is not to be taken lightly. His paintings and drawings are in major museums throughout the U.S. Unless you are a lover of the contemporary art scene of the 1900's especially during and after the WPA art period, you may not be familiar with his oeuvre, Paul Cadmus, Jared French, Isabel Bishop, Reginald Marsh, to name a few.
Born in 1920 and still going strong, he is considered one of the "magic realists" although Tooker himself doesn't believe that defines his style. He doesn't paint more than a couple of pictures a year.
I am drawn to the psychological aspects of Tooker's work such as the passivity and the stoic view of aggression in some of it. Neither sensuous nor sexual, he unabashedly paints the human figure, albeit androgynously. You can view his work wondering if he, the artist, is viewing the world from the outside looking in or the inside looking out. There is no doubt about the innate sadness and detachment abundant within so much of it.
George Tooker traveled in the company of fellow artists Jared French and Paul Cadmus, all friends and of Lincoln Kirstein who became an early patron of each of these men. Look for further reviews that will link these artists to Fire Island, from the communities of Saltaire, Cherry Grove and the Pines with anecdotal commentary along the way. Perhaps they could be considered as the beginning of the "Fire Island School of Painting" if such were to exist.
Certainly as a fifteen year resident and home owner in Cherry Grove, I like knowing that this wonderful spit of land harbored artists of such ilk who flourished.
From a series of "voice" paintings, one of which is displayed above he projects the inability of people to communicate . to hear what people are saying .. of the one talking having a sense of literally speaking through a wall to reach the listener, who might appear unable to comprehend what he hears.
Here are examples of some of his paintings.
Here is a painting of piety. Although not religious he endeavored to create a religious picture without a "religious" subject.
"Painting is an attempt to come to terms with life. There are as many solutions as there are human beings." Tooker
By Philis Raskind
Philis Raskind is a sculptor whose work can be viewed on her website, www.philisraskind.com
Some of the work has been produced during her tenure in Cherry Grove as a homeowner.