Pearlstein and Tunick

Pearlstein and Tunick

I recently ordered two books, of which the second arrived today. Both are by male American artists. Philip Pearlstein, The Complete Paintings and Spencer Tunick, European Installations.

I’ll update this page once I’ve had a chance to consider the works in these publications by Pearlstein and Tunick. There is no need to rush to a conclusion.

31 JULY 2014 For those who are unfamiliar with Spencer Tunick’s work, it is a temporary art installation of a large group of nude figures in an open space. As the volunteers are assembled for only a matter of minutes, the only record of the events are the photographs the artist takes. This book is a collection of some of those installations.

There are images in this book that have more of a landscape feel than a portrait of the people being featured, the bodies becoming objects within the scenery and forming aesthetically pleasing shapes.

I have to admit that I am in a bit of awe at the organisation of such a large mass of people into an eye-catching shape at the various locations.

My only fear is that as Tunick becomes ever more famous, these types of art installations lose their rebelliousness. Street art is about breaking the rules and when the rules are no longer being broken the art loses its edge.

The art of Philip Pearlstein may be less well known to most people and this book shows the development from his early work to his more recent pieces. As you turn the pages there is a real time-line of the vision he wants to achieve from his work.

A big proportion of Pearlstein’s work is the nude figure but there are also clothed portraits and a few landscape scenes. There is a solid understanding of the human anatomy in his work with fine detail of every line and fold that is unique to the sitter.

I do wonder how and where Pearlstein found his subjects, as the sitters don’t have the perfection you often see in fashion publications. There is a real beauty in the “imperfections” of the people in front of him.

Unlike the work of Freud, Pearlstein’s work is more realistic but not to the point where it is photographic in quality. There is a sense of capturing American life in his work. I think it is the objects that Pearlstein includes in his art, which have the same detail and emphasis as the human body, that creates this feeling.

What the two have in common is an attention to detail to their work. I’m finding new things I didn’t see previously each time I pick up one of these books.

The real shame is that I’m admiring their work in book form. I just wish I could experience the works as the artists intended in an art gallery.

1 AUGUST 2014 I forgot to mention that Philip Pearlstein, The Complete Paintings is no longer in print and it took some effort to track it down. However, there are samples of Pearlstein’s work on the Betty Cuningham Gallery website for those of you who are interested. Worth also checking out the YouTube channel that carries his name.

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