Friday, December 28, 2012

Taking Some Flack

Audrey Flack "Self-portrait Holding Charcoal Stick" 1956 Miami University Art Museum

Audrey Flack (b. 1931) was an early pioneer of photorealism, and was the first photorealist to have work purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, in 1966. She was also one of the first and few women to make it into an early revision of Janson's History of Art, after an awareness spread that this venerable backbone of art historical education contained not a single reference to any woman artist past or present. "Mary Cassatt and I, we got in together!" Flack has said of that notable achievement.

Flack studied studio art and art history at the Cooper Union, Yale University and New York University. She has received honorary doctorates from the Cooper Union and from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Flack's work encompasses many mediums including painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture. She is also a well-regarded writer with many works to her name. (In fact, her book Art & Soul was a big influence on me when I was in art school.)

Audrey Flack  "Self-Portrait with Dark Face"  1960  Miami University Art Museum
Flack is currently known for her sculptures, but these two early works combine expressionistic painting and realistic drawing, a stage before the artist dove into photorealism. They show the importance of self-reflection or perhaps more accurately, self-announcement.  This had to be crucial for an artist attempting to create a place for herself in a time (the 1950s) so inhospitable to the female of the art species that women artists were excluded from the basic art history discussion.

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