George Tooker, Reqcuiscat in Pace

I was saddened to read that George Tooker had died Sunday.

I have only just begun to appreciate his work, and that of his circle, and now he has passed, link to NYT obituary.


George Clair Tooker Jr.

Self Portrait

1947

b. 5th August 1920

d. 27th March 2011

age 90

Described as a Symbolist and  a Magic Realist, labels he eschewed ; I find in Tooker’s work  ( this is  certainly not an original thought ) a strong link to the Renaissance, in particular the work of Piero della Francesca. It is not just his medium,  egg tempera, that calls this association to mind, his sensibilities, though decidedly modern, have strong roots in the rich Renaissance tradition, a modernist Neo-Renaissance perhaps.


Pierro della Francesca

St. Sebastian and St. John the Baptist

George Tooker

Window XI

part of the Windows series, 1950-1960.

Having a strong determination to paint, which was contrary to parental desire, Tooker majored in English Literature at Harvard ( this boy was no slouch) yet continued to paint. His circle included Reginald Marsh, Paul Cadmus ( who introduced Tooker to egg tempera) and Jared French; fine company, tremendous inspiration.

George Tooker by George Platt Lynes

source

Cornice

Difficult to ignore a certain resemblance.

Perhaps his most disturbing portrait is Children and Spastics , three effeminate men being pummeled by little monsters. Was this mocking? empathetic? or merely an observation?

It is striking, and quite modern.


Children and Spastics

1946

Museum of Contemporary Art

Chicago

I was first drawn to Tookers work due to the following image, it is easy to understand my attraction.


Coney Island

1947

Difficult to ignore the Pieta reference.

As I mentioned with the earlier image, Tooker created a series, Windows, during the 50’s and 60’s; comely Puerto Rican neighbors being  his inspiration.


Window XIII

The Window

lithograph

After his longtime partner the painter William Christopher died in 1973 ( they had met in ’49, quite a commitment ), Tooker was understandably devastated. He followed a path I can sympathize with, he found comfort in the arms of the Mother Church, and moved to Vermont. Seems quite sensible.

The following link is a recent interview he gave to Vermont Public Radio, it’s a treat to hear his thoughts.


sourced from the New York Times

I found a rather complete gallery of Tooker’s work, unfortunately much isn’t titled or dated, but the images are ravishing.

It is a great loss, we will miss out on new Tooker paintings, mysterious, gorgeous work; fortunately he left a large body of work to absorb, contemplate and enjoy.

Dance

1946


Good Night,

Babylon Baroque



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7 Responses to “George Tooker, Reqcuiscat in Pace”

  1. carla fox Says:

    The first image was one that I used in a collage, found in an old Antiques magazine from the 1970’s, but printed in black and white. The color version is even more arresting. And for some reason “Children and Spastics” is reminiscent of Bosch….not sure why; perhaps the elongated gothic figures?

  2. babylonbaroque Says:

    I hadn’t thought of Bosch, but yes, certainly the element of cruelty.

  3. The odd headgear, the crouching, almost spider-like figure, and the slightly disguised crosses (sort of like pikes) all remind me of Bosch.

  4. […] George Tooker, Reqcuiscat in Pace « Babylon Baroque. […]

  5. TOP TOP TOP!!!!!………….

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