Painting People

Painting People

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by Charlotte Mullins

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Now available in paperback! After a century in which the lexicon of artists' materials expanded from the classic oil, canvas, stone and plaster to include photography, film, performance, found objects and concepts, the spotlight has finally swung back. A new generation of artists--as well as some who never abandoned figurative painting in the first place--is relishing


Now available in paperback! After a century in which the lexicon of artists' materials expanded from the classic oil, canvas, stone and plaster to include photography, film, performance, found objects and concepts, the spotlight has finally swung back. A new generation of artists--as well as some who never abandoned figurative painting in the first place--is relishing the solitary, slow, subtle set of processes involved in not just painting, but painting people. They are choosing paint's unique ability to distill a lifetime of events rather than photography's glimpse of a frozen moment. Painting People, edited by the prominent London art historian and critic Charlotte Mullins, unites and contrasts the work of a key group of artists from around the world and investigates their richly varied accomplishments in lucid text with detailed commentaries accompanied by more than 150 reproductions. The list of contributing artists is stellar, ranging from photo-based painters like Luc Tuymans, Peter Doig and Marlene Dumas to Pop artists like Sigmar Polke and Alex Katz, photorealists like Chuck Close and Gerhard Richter, Neoexpressionists like Cecily Brown and comics-inspired painters like Yoshitomo Nara, Inka Essenhigh and Takashi Murakami. There are erotic grotesques from John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage, meditations on the muse by Elizabeth Peyton and Lucian Freud, "Repro-realistic" work from Neo Rauch and of course self-portraits by Philip Akkerman and Marcel Dzama, among others.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Edited by London-based art historian, broadcaster, and critic Mullins (Rachel Whiteread), this comprehensive survey chiefly comprises catalog-like entries describing more than 150 works by approximately 65 contemporary artists world wide who paint the human figure. Also included are an introduction to figure painting and five three-page essays describing the various paintings. Concentrating on works by artists who create universal subjects (e.g., Chuck Close, Lucian Freud, Lisa Yuskavage), Mullins presents five typographies for examining contemporary figure painting. In "Figure Unravelled," she focuses on approaches to painting and composition that affect the rendering of human forms; "Urban Condition" and "Other Worlds" then situates the painted figures in the aforementioned contexts. "Folk Tales" draws attention to real or imaginary narratives that inform representations. Finally, "The Past Deconstructed" explains how contemporary painters have appropriated and departed from canons of representation set forth in many art forms. Well documented with artists' biographies, a selected bibliography, a list of illustrations, and an index, this superbly conceived book makes the art of figure painting understandable to diverse audiences. It belongs in most academic, special, and public libraries that have art book collections. Strongly recommended.-Cheryl Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of Philadelphia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers
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9.10(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Chris Ofili (born 1968) is an English painter noted for works referencing aspects of his African background. He is one of the best-known Young British Artists, a Turner Prize winner, and the source of one of the New York art world's biggest scandals. It was Ofili's painting, a depiction of a black African Virgin Mary surrounded by images from blaxploitation movies and close-ups of female genitalia cut from pornographic magazines, that caused then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to close the infamous Sensation exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum in 1999.

Cecily Brown was born in London and received her MFA from the Slade School of Art there. Her work has been exhibited at many galleries worldwide including The Saatchi Gallery, London; the Gagosian Gallery, New York and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Laylah Ali was born in 1968 in Buffalo, New York. She has had solo exhibitions at inVA, London; 303 Gallery, New York; Gertrude Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne, Australia; Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, among others. She has been featured in group exhibitions such as The Body, The Ruin, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, Australia; 2004 Whitney Biennial, New York; Splat Boom Pow!, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, Texas; 2003 Venice Biennale; and Freestyle, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. She received a B.A. from Williams College and an M.F.A. from Washington University, St. Louis. Ali lives and works in Williamstown,Massachusetts.

MichaIl Borremans was born in 1963 in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. Solo exhibitions of his work have been mounted at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Kunsthalle Bremehaven, and the Museum f r Gegenwartskunst in Basel, Switzerland, among others. Borremans lives and works in Ghent.

Chuck Close was born in Monroe, Washington, in 1940 and studied visual art at Yale University. Photography has been an integral part of his painting process since the mid-60s, and later became a body of work in its own right. Close has also distinguished himself as a master of printmaking. Since 1967 his work has been the subject of more than 100 major exhibitions throughout the world.

George Condo was born in Concord, New Hampshire in 1957. In the early 80s he worked at Andy Warhol's Factory, then later rose to fame in alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Julian Schnabel, playing a key role in the 80s revival of painting. Solo exhibitions of Condo's work have been mounted at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston and the Palais des Congres de Paris, as well as at such prestigious galleries as Bruno Bischofsberger in Zurich and Luhring Augustine and PaceWildenstein in New York. In 1999, he received the Academy Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

John Currin was born in 1962 in Boulder, Colorado. After completing his MFA at the Yale School of Art, he moved to New York with his wife and muse, artist Rachel Feinstein, where they currently live and work. His highly lauded figurative paintings and drawings have been widely shown in institutional group shows and solo gallery exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe.

Amy Cutler was born in 1974 in Poughkeepsie, New York, and lives and works in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared at the Brooklyn Museum, P.S.1 and the Drawing Center, and in the Whitney Biennial. It is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in New York, among others.

Peter Doig was born in 1959 in Edinburgh. He grew up in Trinidad, Canada, and London, and now lives and works in Trinidad. Venues for his solo shows have included the Whitechapel Gallery, Gavin Brown's Enterprise, the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami. He was short-listed for the 1994 Turner Prize, and his work has appeared in group shows at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Kunsthalle Wien and the Serpentine Gallery.

Marlene Dumas was born in 1953 in Capetown, South Africa. After studying at the Michealis School of Fine Arts there, she relocated to the Netherlands, where she studied in Haarlem and Amsterdam. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt.

Marcel Dzama was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1974, where he later founded the Royal Art Lodge, and where he still lives and works. Last year his work appeared in Paris, Stockholm, London, Dusseldorf, Toronto and New York. It has also been published by Simon & Schuster, Penguin Books, Soft Skull Press and McSweeneyis Books.

Eric Fischl was born in New York City in 1948. He received a BFA from the California Institute for the Arts in 1972. His work has been the subject of numerous important exhibitions including: the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee; and the Museum of Contemparary Art, Chicago. Fischl lives and works in New York City and Sag Harbor, NY.

Lucian Freud has been described as the greatest figurative artist working today. In a career spanning more than six decades, he has redefined portraiture and the nude through his dispassionate and unblinking scrutiny of the human body. Although he is best known as a painter, etching has been a constant and integral part of his studio practice since 1982. Born in Berlin in 1922, he moved with his family to Britain in 1933 and became a naturalized British citizen in 1939. He lives and works in London.

Margherita Manzelli was born in Ravenna, Italy in 1968. Recent exhibitions of her work have been held at MAXXI, Rome, and the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently lives in Milan and London.

Born in 1960 in Leipzig, Neo Rauch is a lifelong resident of Germany. He has shown his work at The Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and in the past year alone at venues in London, Prague, Montreal, Santa Fe and Osaka. His work has been covered by the New York Times and the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and Artforum, and is in the collections of both The Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim in New York.

Daniel Richter was born in Eutin, Germany, in 1962 and today is based in Berlin and Hamburg. His artistic career has been as brief as it has been successful, beginning with his debut at the Berlin gallery Contemporary Fine Arts in 1996. Since then he has had solo shows at Patrick Painter in Los Angeles, Kunsthalle zu Kiel and various galleries in Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Hamburg, and has been included in group shows throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

Dana Schutz was born in Michigan, studied art at Columbia University, and now works in New York City. Since her first public exhibition several years ago her work has been celebrated by critics, curators and collectors. It is already placed in many major private collections of contemporary art in the U.S. and Europe, and with numerous major institutions. She has been included in such significant international exhibitions as the Venice Biennale and PS1's Greater New York.

Luc Tuymans was born in 1958 in Belgium. Since his appearance at the 2001 Venice Biennale and Documenta 11, he has fast become one of the most important painters of his generation. He lives and works in Antwerp.

Lisa Yuskavage was born in Philadelphia in 1962. She studied at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University and the Yale School of Art. Her first solo museum exhibition was held at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, in 2001; solo gallery shows have been mounted at Greengrassi, London; Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York; Studio Guenzani, Milan; and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, among others. She has been featured in group exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the 1999 Istanbul Biennial, the Saatchi Gallery, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art and at Casey Kaplan, New York. She was also featured in the Whitney Biennial 2000 and in the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centeris Greater New York exhibition. She received a Tiffany Foundation grant in 1996 and a MacDowell Colony fellowship in 1994. The series Tit Heaven was shown in her first solo show, in 1992, at Elizabeth Koury Gallery in New York.

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Painting People 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
Charlotte Mullins is a highly respected British art critic and historian and her contribution to the milieu of figurative painting today is a major one. This book, PAINTING PEOPLE: FIGURE PAINTING TODAY, manages to give enough information about various approach to the figure, including the fusion of vision of artists with societal atmosphere at present to make it an immediately indispensable volume for students and art lovers and collectors. She writes very well and manages to stay comfortably away from the Artspeak that so often alienates the casual viewer. For that she is to be heartily congratulated: this book is readable even without images! The best part of Mullins' writing is the segments she places beside the many images that generously flood the pages of this finely designed and produced volume. Readers who know the artists well may take exception to some of her 'diagnostic thoughts' about the meaning of some of the paintings, but at least she is making the attempt to pull the viewer into the paintings rather than simply posting images. Unfortunately the sizes of the paintings in this book are not listed, a factor that many seem unimportant to some, but when discussing the potency of standing in the presence of, say, the works of Cecily Brown, Jenny Saville, of Lucien Freud, size matters: the impact of the figures that are larger than life makes a difference on how they are perceived. Anyone involved even tangentially with the artists who paint the figure may take exception to many of the artists included in this selection and be even more amazed at the paucity of the many giant figurative artists from the USA: listing the artists not included here would be an entire other book. And on the other hand, while it is informative to be exposed to the myriad types of artists Mullins does include, the quality of many of them beg indulgence with the company they keep! But here is an opportunity to study the thoughts of a well regarded critic about the current status of figurative painting, and for those of us who have been champions of figurative art for decades, this book is gratifyingly comprehensive. At least the Figure is being discussed in depth, even if too many of the artists who have devoted their lives and careers to the figure on canvas are ignored. May 10