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George Tooker

(1920—2011)


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(b New York, 5 Aug. 1920; d Hartland, Vermont, 27 March 2011).

American painter. He studied at the Art Students League of New York, 1943–4. His teachers there included Reginald Marsh, and it was from him and Paul Cadmus (with whom he studied privately) that he acquired his preference for painting in egg tempera. His technique is scrupulously detailed in the manner of the Old Masters, but his subjects express the spiritual desolation and debilitating uniformity of modern life. The figures in his paintings all look more or less like one another and go through life as if on a conveyer belt, tense and drained of energy. They are physically close to one another, but emotionally distant. Subway (1950, Whitney Mus., New York) is perhaps his most famous work—a terrifying vision of Kafkaesque isolation.


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