Thursday, January 29, 2009


Subway, 1950
George Tooker
egg tempera on composition board
18 1/8 x 36 1/8 in.
Whitney Museum of American Art

Another new discovery, I love George Tooker's urban scenes. His figures cut a generic, androgynous appearance, each nearly indistinguishable from the next except for lines and clothing choices made to distinguish man from woman. The figure in the foreground seems obviously a woman due to Tooker's choices for detail (dress, shoes and hair) but when she is broked down she still remains "gently androgynous" (An Interview with Tooker interview, Justin Spring). His approach to the city world is a depressing one, yet makes for thoughtful and considered subject matter in painting.

His work is often categorized as magic realism ("Term coined by German [art] critic Franz Roh in 1925 to describe the aspect of Neue Sachlichkeit characterized by sharp focus detail"--Chilvers, Concise Oxford dictionary of art & artists) or symbolic realism, both terms which Tooker was not a fan of but depending on they are interpreted his works sometimes falls into and out of the categorization. The art associated with terms was often tinged with surrealism (de Chirico)

Art: Revival of George Tooker's 'Magic Realism'

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