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Oil Paintings by

Philip Pearlstein

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Dreadlocks and Marionette
Model with Dreadlocks and Marionette with Umbrella, 1998
Two Models Chair
Two Models with Blow-Up Chair, 1998

 

PHILIP PEARLSTEIN
American painter (b. 1924).

Philip Pearlstein is one of the most important and innovative artists of the contemporary Realist school. He studied at Carnegie Institute of Technology and received his Masters in art history at New York University. During the time that Pearlstein began to work realistically the Modernists were absolute in their rejection of the Realist option.

©Philip Pearlstein. Courtesy of Robert Miller Gallery, New York

Although Pearlstein remained as much a Modernist as any of his contemporaries, he found himself obliged to reconsider the Realist option, and in so doing helped to reinvent the terms by which Realism could once again be made into a vital art. The Milwaukee Art Museum honored him with a retrospective exhibition in 1983 and accompanied the exhibition with a monograph on his complete paintings.

Pearlstein has a distinct approach to realism. Since 1960 he has studied and painted the oddly ever-changing shape of the nude model, focusing on the technical characteristics of painting the figure rather than creating a story-line. With all story-line removed, the composition and technicality of the painting quickly became the subject. In a 2006 interver Pearlstein discussed his interest in the figure:

I was strictly interested in the way ordinary people looked. And that became part of the kind of philosophy in a sense, to paint the ordinary, the everyday, not to go out of my way to make them tell some kind of story. -- Philip Pearlstein

Study Two Models
Study for Two Models with Blow-Up Chair, 1998

Vertical Study Model
Vertical Study of Model with Blow-Up Chair, 1998

I stare at the model. Each detail of the form as I transcribe it into paint fills my entire field of visual and mental experience. The final result in paint, of course, is controlled by the physicality of my effort to re-create the look of the forms in their space that is in front of me. I never change the result to make the drawing academically correct. I trust my eyes. For me the process is an intensely interior experience of feeling rather than of anaylysis. It involves mesmerization, self-induced by staring, tuning the world out, emptying my mind. It really is a kind of high. -- Philip Pearlstein, catalogue excerpt, 2010

© Philip Pearlstein. Courtesy of Robert Miller Gallery, New York

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