Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings, 1972-2008 is an important overview of the work and methods of this British-born ‘realist’ panoramic painter (b. 1939) who was given the MacArthur Fellowship genius award in 2009. Though primarily based in New York City, Downes has travelled widely and has created a significant number of landscape paintings on site including the harbour of Portland, Maine, and the Donald Judd structures in Marfa, Texas.
Downes’s panoramic paintings, which he developed by studying 17th-century Dutch panoramic landscape painting possess a unique balance between realism and abstraction, timelessness and history. Painted from observation, they are not "snapshots" of a scene recreated in the studio; rather, they are chronicles of the human experience records of social history as it evolves.
The book also features a wide-ranging interview between the artist and Terrie Sultan, director of Parrish Art Museum
|Publisher:||D Giles Limited|
|Product dimensions:||11.30(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Published in conjunction with the exhibition Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings, 1972-2008 (June-August 2010, Parrish Art Museum, NY). Klaus Ottomann writes about Downes' work and what has influenced his work; and Sarah Rothenberg considers the role of time in visual perception. There is also an interview with the artist.The book is illustrated in colour throughout, over 40 pictures accompany the text, and there are 25 colour plates. There is a bibliography, but no index.The contributions from Ottomann and Rothenberg make interesting reading, but the interview with Downes is perhaps the most revealing. However there are several shortcomings here. The omission of any sort of index is frustrating at best, and at worst seriously hampers its use as a research tool. Most of the illustrations are small, even the majority of the plates are smaller than the page otherwise allows; of course in some cases the format of the painting presents difficulties, but allowing the image to cross the gutter would allow for a much larger picture; this is rarely done. The quality of colour reproduction is far from good, the colours are flat and lack-lustre, without vibrancy, and pictures are often lacking in detail. The omission of any close up detail is strange, with works that are predominantly very large surely it is essential to include a few details in order to convey the true qualities of the work.The book compares unfavourably with Stanford Schwartz Rackstraw Downes (Princeton University Press (18 April 2005) ISBN: 0691120471), especially as regards the quality of the images. I bought this later study for the more recent pictures, and for the half dozen or so post 2005 paintings it is useful, but otherwise I see no reason to buy this over the excellent 2005 Schwartz which suffers none of the shortcomings of this publication.