Non-Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: George Tooker

By Sandy Amazeen Oct 16, 2008, 21:53 GMT

Book Review: George Tooker

One of America’s pre-eminent painters, George Tooker (born 1920) is known for his haunting works that evoke the alienation and anonymity of urban life. Working in egg tempera, a Renaissance medium that produces a luminous quality yet requires meticulous application, Tooker first came to prominence as part of the post-war Magic Realist movement, creating surrealistic visions that captured the uncertainty of the Cold War era. Often compared with Hopper and ...more

Tooker, born August 5, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York knew even as a seven year old that he would become an artist. After going through his formative years trying to live up to others expectations, Tooker began training with Reginald Marsh who introduced him to tempera. In 1944 he began studying with Paul Cadmus whose controlled paint application allowed Tooker to begin coming into his own as an artist. Later, Tooker began working with egg tempera, a demanding media that produces the distinctive, luminous quality that makes his work so haunting.

This beautifully produced volume presents a thoroughly researched, comprehensive look at Tooker and his work. Over eighty pieces are strikingly reproduced in all their evocative splendor while the well written text examines the external forces that influenced Tooker’s work which frequently portraits the less glamorous aspects of urban life. The line drawing studies for several of his better-known works such as Waiting Room are particularly interesting as they clearly demonstrate Tooker’s attention to detail and sense of perspective.

Seven authors contributed to this in-depth study profiling one of America’s most influential modern painters with an unerring sense for pointing out some disquieting truths about ourselves. This spectacular book is an excellent introduction for those unfamiliar with Tooker’s work yet detailed enough to provide admirers an insightful look at an American icon.


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