George Tooker

George Clair Tooker, Jr. (Aug. 5, 1920-March 27, 2011); American figurative painter. His works are associated with Magic realism, Social realism, Photorealism and Surrealism. His subjects are depicted naturally as in a photograph, but the images use flat tones, an ambiguous perspective, and alarming juxtapositions to suggest an imagined or dreamed reality. He did not agree with the association of his work with Magic realism or Surrealism, as he said, "I am after painting reality impressed on the mind so hard that it returns as a dream, but I am not after painting dreams as such, or fantasy." In 1968, he was elected to the National Academy of Design and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Tooker was one of 9 recipients of the National Medal of Arts in 2007.

...Tooker acknowledged the need for other art to support his development process. He spent much of his free time reading painting and sculpture books, studying the works of antiquity up to 20th-century art in an effort to augment his artistic vision. He was particularly interested in Classical sculpture, Flemish painting and sculpture, Italian Renaissance painting and sculpture, Dutch Golden Age painting, 17th-c. French art, Neue Sachlichkeit art, and Mexican art of the 1920s and 1930s. Some individuals that influenced Tooker include Italian artists Paolo Uccello and Pandiero della Francesca; American artists Jared French, Edward Hopper, Paul Cadmus, Honoré Desmond Sharrer, and Henry Koerner.

Early in his career, Tooker's work was often compared with painters such as Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and his close friends Jared French and Paul Cadmus.

His most well known paintings carry strong social commentary, and are often characterized as his "public" or "political" pieces.... Many portray visually literal depictions of social withdrawal and isolation. In many ways, these images reveal the negative side of the subject matter celebrated in... (
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Katie Hauser


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