When I was a teenager, I subscribed to a rather bizarre and eclectic experimental magazine called Avant Garde, published by Ralph Ginzburg. The value of its contents varied, but I remember one thing about it above all else — in one of the issues it introduced me to the work of American painter George Tooker.
Compared at times to Andrew Wyeth and at times to Edward Hopper, Tooker’s work defies being pigeonholed. People have tried to make his individualistic square peg fit in the round holes of Surrealism, Symbolism, Magic Realism and God knows what other isms, without clear success.
Tooker’s paintings, painstakingly and deliberately rendered in the demanding Renaissance medium of egg tempera, evoke loneliness, alienation, and the dehumanizing forces of modern society. Some of his works are well known, almost iconic images, though his name is not a household word.
His enigmatic scenes of eclipsed faces, half glimpsed figures and slack bodied individuals with haunted expressions seem to portray people resigned to their fate as the invisible vampires of modern existence drain away their life and humanity — though there are occasional glimpses of light and life — disconcerting, but powerful and unforgettably resonant images.
Tooker died last Sunday, March 27, 2011, at the age of 90. Unfortunately, there isn’t a really good source on the web for a large number of Tooker’s works.
Ten Dreams probably has the best selection of Tooker’s work on the web, but the viewing method is deliberately terrible. You have to launch each image in a full-screen pop-up window, then mouse over the image area and wait for the image to load in order to see it (because you’re a thief, you see), then close the window and select the next image.
(I suppose they think they’re making it hard for people to grab the images with these shenanigans; they need to do a little more research to understand that they’re only discouraging the most casual users from getting them, and in the process alienating many potential visitors who will find the site too much of a PITA to deal with; but I digress…)
The largest images of Tooker’s work I’ve found are on the Smithsonian American Art Museum including The Waiting Room.
Next best for large images are Terra Foundation (one zoomable) and Sothey’s sold archives (two zoomable).
There are print collections of Tooker’s work: George Tooker, by Robert Cozzolino, Marshall N. Price and M. Melissa Wolfe, is in print, you may find others used, like George Tooker by Thomas H. Garver, George Tooker: Paintings, 1947-1973 and George Tooker.
There is a Cleveland Museum of Art documentary on YouTube in three parts, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
[Notice via ArtDaily]
Sothey's sold archives
Addison Gallery (drawings)
Whitney Museum of American Art (The Subway)
Kemper Art Museum
YouTube, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
George Tooker on Ten Dreams
AskArt, and here
ArtNet, and here
RoGallery, and here
Race & Ethnicity
Bio and obit on Boston.com
Bio and obit on Artfix Daily
Bio on Wikipedia
Essay on Chez Namaste Nancy