Although quite heterogeneous, unpredictable and often surreal, the work of Audrey Flack is strongly rooted in the focal examination of perception. During her several decades-long career, the artist has established herself as one of the pioneers of the genre of photorealism and has produced a notable number of abstract works. Primarily governed by her own fancy and intuition, Flack has carefully departed from the canons of then popular genres in order to manage her own authentic expression. With great effort, patience, and immense courage the artist has struggled to sought her agenda out and express how limitless her creativity is.
Audrey Flack was born in 1931 in New York. She attended High School of Music & Art and studied fine arts in New York from 1948 to 1953, studying under Josef Albers among others. Afterward, from the Cooper Union in New York City the artist has earned a graduate degree and received an honorary doctorate and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Yale University. Flack even collected art history diploma at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. In May 2015, Flack received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Clark University, where she also gave a commencement address. The artist is an honorary professor at George Washington University, and currently is a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
During her studies, Flack was apparently dazzled by the current of Abstract Expressionist. One of the paintings produced was an homage to Franz Kline. Nevertheless, during the late 1950s, Flack decided to depart from the Abstract Expressionist aesthetic since she felt did not communicate effectively or clearly with viewers. That transition can be marked as a crucial point of transition. Then Flack enrolled at the Art Students League to study anatomy with Robert Beverly Hale because she thought her ability to paint in a realistic manner was inadequate. But gradually, she became a New Realist and then evolved into photorealism during the 1960s.
From the time stance, Audrey Flack is best known for her photorealist paintings. The fascination with the real, everyday objects is without a doubt reminiscent of Pop Art, but the genre of photorealism was practically based on exploring the matter of perception. Therefore, Flack’s work depicted everyday household items like tubes of lipstick and, most commonly, fruit in almost blurry fashion, in order to undermine the enticing line between reality and fantasy. The innovation was using photographs as the foundation of her work. Besides paintings of vernacular objects which were the commentary on the construction of femininity, that method led to paintings fulfilled with sociopolitical commentary.
The early 1970s marked the beginning of Flack’s mature body of work. For example, a significant painting from this period, Farb Family Portrait (1969–70), was the result of a new working technique. The base of the work was a slide of the family portrait which was projected onto the canvas to use as her guide for painting. Such a method spared her from making preliminary drawings. Flack also developed a method of applying paint in layers with an airbrush. Besides portrayals, the artist released a number of still life paintings which reflected her fascination with Baroque, especially the notorious vanitas, collections of objects symbolic of the inevitability of death.
The 80’s brought yet another transformation of Flack’s work. The focus from painting, which was her primary media, was shifted to sculpture. The artist started exploring iconographic and mythological representations of goddesses which were inclined in feminist agenda. By evoking such a narrative, Flack tended to accentuate the female principle and ancient traditions of matriarchy. Her new trajectory led to many public commissions for her artwork. In 1986 Flack published Art & Soul: Notes on Creating, a book expressing some of her thoughts on being an artist.
The notable work’s of Audrey Flack are displayed in several major museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The artist was the first photo-realist painter to be added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1966. During her career, Flac was awarded several in occasions and the most important are the St. Gaudens Medal from the Cooper Union, and the honorary Albert Dome professorship from Bridgeport University. The domains of Audrey Flak’s art are immense, she has influenced generations of artists (the ironic kitsch themes in her early work profoundly influenced Jeff Koons) and contributed not only to the art history but to feminism as well.
Featured image: Portrait of Audrey Flack in her studio – image courtesy of Yale Alumni Art League
All images used are courtesy of the artist
|2015||Audrey Flack, the Abstract Expressionist Years||Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY||Solo|
|2015||Heroines: Audrey Flack's Transcendent Drawings and Prints||Williams Center Gallery, Lafayette College, PA||Solo|
|2015||Transient Beauty: Photographs by Audrey Flack||Taubman Museum, Roanoke, VA||Solo|
|2012||Audrey Flack: Sculpture 1989-2012||Gary Snyder Gallery, New York, NY||Solo|
|2012||Audrey Flack: Recent Pages from an Ancient Past||Mason Gross Galleries, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ||Solo|
|2012||Metamorphoses: Pictures by Audrey Flack||Mabel Smith Douglas Library Galleries, New Brunswick, NJ||Solo|
|2012||Hyperrealism 1967-2012||Madrid, Spain||Group|
|2010||American Art||National Museum, Krakow, Poland||Group|
|2010||Audrey Flack Paints a Picture||Gary Snyder Project Space, New York, NY||Solo|
|2009||Audrey Flack—Abstract Expressionist to Photo Realist||Lewallen Gallery, Santa Fe, NM||Solo|
|2009||American Photorealism||Deutsche Guggenheim Museum, Berlin||Group|
|2008||Responses to 9 1/1||Apex Gallery New York City||Solo|
|2007||Daphne Speaks: An Exhbition of Sculpture and Master Workshop Prints||University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND||Solo|
|2007||Audrey Flack: Abstract Expressionist||Rider University Art Gallery, Lawrenceville, NJ||Solo|
|2007||Plasters and Disasters—Audrey Flack's Recent Sculpture||Kingsborough Community College, NY||Solo|
|2006||American Photorealist Posters||SACE, Florence, Italy||Group|
|2005||The Art of 9/11||Curated by Arthur Danto, Apex Art||Group|
|2003-4||The Art of Aging||Hebrew Union College, Brookdale Center, NY||Group|
|2002||Drawings, Watercolors, & Sculptures: Responses to 9 11||Vered Gallery, East Hampton, NY||Solo|
|2001||Plein Air Watercolors and Drawings||Bernaducci-Meisel Gallery, New York, NY||Solo|
|2000||Reinventing the Goddess||Pinnacle Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA||Group|
|1999||Icons of the 20th Century||Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA||Solo|
|1998||Audrey Flack—Reflections in a Mirror||Miami University Art Museum, Oxford, OH||Solo|
|1998||Audrey Flack—New Work||Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY||Solo|
|1996||Daphne Speaks||Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY||Solo|
|1996||Amor Vicit Omnia||Art Museum of Western Virgina, Roanoke, VA||Solo|
|1996||Classicism in the 20th Century||Lizan-Tops Gallery, East Hampton, NY||Group|
|1996||Women as Mythmakers||Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery, College of Pennsylvania, Lebanon Valley, PA||Group|
|1996||Divine Flesh||Artopia Gallery, New York, NY||Group|
|1995-96||Narcissism||California Center for the Arts Museum, Scondido, Ca||Group|
|1995-96||In Three Dimensions||Snug Harbor Museum, Staten Island, NY||Group|