Julie Speed: Paintings, Constructions, and Works on Paper

Overview

Julie Speed's meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail bring to mind the work of painters from the fifteenth and sixteenth century Renaissance. Unlike those artists, however, Speed is inspired by an almost limitless number of easily available sources and is unencumbered by the sexual and societal restrictions of past centuries, which gives her the freedom to paint what she wants and the way she wants. This places her body of work squarely in the present. Utilizing her keen sense of the absurd, Speed ...

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Overview

Julie Speed's meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail bring to mind the work of painters from the fifteenth and sixteenth century Renaissance. Unlike those artists, however, Speed is inspired by an almost limitless number of easily available sources and is unencumbered by the sexual and societal restrictions of past centuries, which gives her the freedom to paint what she wants and the way she wants. This places her body of work squarely in the present. Utilizing her keen sense of the absurd, Speed ponders the big questions—the role of religion, isolation and longing, sexuality, sin and guilt—with a sly, sometimes black, sense of humor and a steadfast refusal to offer the viewer any tidy resolutions. It is the emphatically open-ended and omnivorous nature of her work, combining anxiety, erotica, and violence with the subversive power of beauty, that puts Speed in the vanguard of a return to figurative painting in contemporary art.

To bring Speed's mysterious and compelling work to a wider audience, this beautifully illustrated volume presents one hundred color plates of her oil paintings, constructions and works on paper. Accompanying the plates are essays by art historians Elizabeth Ferrer and Edmund Pillsbury that discuss Speed's relationship to generations of figurative painters, from the artists of the Renaissance to the present, as well as her affinities with and differences from the surrealists, dadaists, and other historical movements. Rounding out the volume are fascinating excerpts from the "Books of Conversation," a series of public journals initiated by the Austin Museum of Art in connection with a touring survey of Speed's work, in which museum-goers wrote down their ideas, opinions, and questions for the artist, to which she provided written answers.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Speed's work came to national prominence in 1996, when her painting Setting the World on Fire appeared on the cover of singer Shawn Colvin's album A Few Small Repairs. Since then, her work has appeared in survey-length exhibitions in venues like the Austin Museum of Art. This lush first monograph displays the gamut of Speed's work: paintings that wed surrealist and Renaissance elements and collages and sculptures that carry a potent fusion of Dada farce and Monty Python-esque wit. While referencing the iconography of artists like Caravaggio, Leonora Carrington, Joseph Cornell, and Paul Klee, Speed's work is her own and manifests a distinctly postmodern mode of expression, involving the inflection of diverse art historical dialects through the artists' unique experience and vision. Essays by Ferrer (The True Poetry) and Pillsbury (former director, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX) provide eloquent interpretations; an absorbing Q&A sheds light on her obsessions, influences, and symbolism. Highly recommended for contemporary art collections.-Savannah Schroll, formerly with Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292702721
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Pages: 199
  • Product dimensions: 12.10 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

JULIE SPEED has painted since childhood. Since her move to Austin, Texas, in 1978, she has devoted herself full time to working in her studio. In her words, “I keep hours just like a real job, only longer, and in my spare time I read books, drink tequila, garden and drive around West Texas.”
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Table of Contents

Speed Time
Elizabeth Ferrer
Julie Speed: The Art of Metaphor
Edmund P. Pillsbury
Questions and Answers

Plates

Exhibitions
Collections

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2004

    A UNIQUE ARTIST

    For those not familiar with the work of iconoclastic artist Julie Speed let me quote Edmund Pillsbury, former Director of the Kimbell Art Museum and presently Director of the Meadows Museum. In the introduction to this beautifully illustrated volume we read, ' In Julie Speed's paintings everything appears real, but on more careful inspection there is usually something unfamiliar, if not odd, present. Her paintings offer infinite possibilities. Whereas her collages and sculptures assembled from preexisting parts are exercises in surrealism, the paintings supercede realism; they are, in the artist's own vernacular pararealistic......' Intrigued? You should be. Fascinated? You will be upon examining 'Julie Speed: Paintings, Constructions, and Works on Paper,' a comprehensive and compelling volume presenting 100 color plates of her oil paintings, constructions, and works on paper. Pillsbury and Ferrer, both noted art historians, contribute a body of essays which focus on Speed's relationship to painters throughout the ages. The book closes with passages drawn from 'Books of Conversation,' which was an opportunity for museum visitors to jot down their thoughts and questions for the artist. Speed's responses to these jottings is particularly revelatory. An accessible artist, Speed lives in Austin Texas. Of her life she says, 'I keep hours just like a real job, only longer, and in my spare time I read books, drink tequila, garden, and drive around West Texas.' No doubt she's a boon companion! Julie Speed is an original, an artist who communicates ideas in her work, sometimes with humor, at other times with a sense of foreboding. I venture to say her paintings are unlike any most of us have seen. Thanks to Drs. Ferrer and Pillsbury for giving us the opportunity.

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