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Mark Tansey

United States 1949

Photography, Monochrome Painting

Mark Tansey
Mark Tansey
United States
February 27, 2016
Music, Gestalt, .

A lot of us dreamed of following in the footsteps of our parents when we were young, carrying on the torch of family business or tradition when the time for it came. Whether by fate or choice, many parted ways with these childhood dreams, leaving them locked in the back of our minds. But some got to live that dream, and it goes for the American painter Mark Tansey. Even as a child, Tansey was drawn towards the artistic expression, and the nourishing artistic family surrounding helped spark this inner flame. With his mind set on art, his self-employed strict routine and many external influences shaped the young artistic persona, forming a revered artist that he is today.

Mark Tansey
Mark Tansey – Columbus Discovers Spain (study), 1995. Photo credits

All-Around Artistic Assault

Mark Tansey was captivated by art at an early age, and he knew even then that he will be immersed in the world of art. Influences came from many sides, primarily from the family that has a history of artists belonging to it, and young Mark Tansey didn’t seem to mind. More so, while attended Saturday art classes at the San Francisco Art Institute during his teen years, he would regularly visit the local art museum in his spare time. After spending three years studying at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, he showed that he was an artist ahead of his time, showing great interest and understanding of appropriation and simulation of media, a style that was widely recognized only ten years after. With another four years at the Hunter College in New York City, as well as working as an assistant at the San Jose State University Gallery, Tansey had the opportunity to continue his research on the history of art, an aspect that will greatly influence all of his further works.

In his teen days, Mark Tansey regularly visited the local art museums

Mark Tansey
Mark Tansey – Hedge (detail), 2011. Photo credits

A Quick Creativity

Historic art was introduced to Mark Tansey by his parents, and one of its impacts manifested in the old-fashioned look his paintings emit. Many of his pieces are monochromatic, and the way he would create them is by laying down a layer of monochrome pigment upon the canvas surface; its texture allows for it to be easily shaped, granting Tansey the opportunity to create some amazing paintings. However, the pigment dries after a short period of time, leaving the artist with less than six hours to complete the artistic process. In order to create deep, detailed, meaningful narratives, Tansey utilizes a style similar to the one used by fresco painters, working on individual segments of the painting one at a time in order to meet the time criteria.

Mark Tansey
Mark Tansey – Triumph of the New York School, 1984. Photo credits

Sophisticated Conflicts in his Works

Tansey’s paintings depict a variety of subjects, from daily occurrences to historical events, usually in a natural environment. The most notable thing that defines Tansey in his artistic practice is the way he interacts with the viewers through his paintings, engaging them intellectually in practically all of his pieces. Influenced by René Magritte‘s eight methods, Tansey wanted to find a way to incorporate certain contradictions into his works that would challenge the viewer all the while avoiding simple visual methods. It came in the form of placing certain elements into an otherwise straight narrative that wouldn’t quite belong there, creating a very sophisticated conflict between a visually fluent portrayal and a contextually incoherent narrative. Most of his paintings are examples of this clever practice that he employs, and various puns and references can be found throughout his extensive oeuvre.

Tansey incorporates certain contradictions into his works that challenge the viewer

Mark Tansey
Mark Tansey – Valley of Doubt (study), 1986-1990. Photo credits

Brilliance of Mark Tansey

Living and working in his two-story studio, Mark Tansey creates his paintings in several stages of sketches and drawings before completing the final piece, making him a great artist of his time in the eyes of many. Within his literary and historical themes, Tansey creates sophisticated, elaborate allegories that remind of great philosophical thinkers of old, forcing creative thinking out of the viewers himself. His shrewd work is a part of several major collections, including Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth and Broad Art Foundation in Los Angeles. With many solo and group exhibitions under his belt, he has carried on his family’s tradition successfully, becoming an artist of great quality and value.

The artist is represented by Gagosian Beverly Hills, Gagosian Britannia Street London, >Gagosian Madison Avenue New YorkGagosian Park & 75 New York, Gagosian West 21st Street New York, Gagosian West 24th Street New York.

Mark Tansey lives and works in downtown New York City.

Featured image: Mark Tansey – The Raw and the Framed, 1995 – Photo credits
All images used for illustrative purposes only

YearExhibition Title Gallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Figure/ GroundAdam Baumgold GalleryGroup
2015SECOND WAVE: Aesthetics of the 80s in Today's Contemporary ArtCalifornia Museum Of Photography, UCRGroup
2015Looking Back: 45 YearsJohn Berggruen GalleryGroup
2014Duane Michals: CollectorCarnegie Museum of ArtGroup
2014 Big Picture. New York Academy of Art, New York, NY.Group
2011 Mark Tansey. Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA.Solo
2010Realismus. Kunsthalle in Emden, Emden, Germany.Group
2009 Mark Tansey. Gagosian Gallery, London, England.Solo
2009MOCA’s First Thirty Years. MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA.Group
2009 Collected Visions. Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, NY.Group
2007Contemporary, Cool and Collected. Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC.Group
2007SIX: ALUMNI MAKING FINE ART. Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA.Group
2006Twice Drawn. The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY.Group
2006Reflections. Galleri Faurschou, Copenhagen, Denmark.Group
2005 Mark Tansey. Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany.Solo
2005Mark Tansey. Fisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City, NY.Solo
2005Mark Tansey. Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Germany.Solo
200550 Jahre 1995-2005. Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany.Group
2005The Shape of Time. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.Group
2004 Mark Tansey. Gagosian Gallery, W. 24th St., New York, NY.Solo
2004Works on Paper. Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA.Group
2004Picasso to Pop: A Growing Contemporary Collection The Phoenix Art Museum, AZ.Group
2004Defying Gravity: Contemporary Art and Flight North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC.Group
2003 The Burbs DFN Gallery, New York, NY. Group
2003Defying Gravity: Contemporary Art and Flight North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC.Group
2003Selections from the Broad Collections Gallery of Art at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Group
2001 American Tableaux: Selections from the Collection of Walker Art Center Miami Art Museum, FL; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE; Group
2001Group Exhibition. Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Group
2000Mark Tansey: Graphs. Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Solo
2000 Modernism and Abstraction: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Museum of Art. The Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami, FLGroup
1999Art at Work: Forty Years of the Chase Manhattan Collection. Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; Group
1998 Double Trouble: The Patchett Collection. Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA.Group
1998'Floss' Walter McBean Gallery, San Francisco, CA Group
1997Mark Tansey. Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Solo
1997Painting Machines Industrial Image in Contemporary Art. Boston University, Boston, MA.Group
1996 American Kaleidoscope National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C. Group
1996Heroic Painting Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC; Group
1995Borders. Galleri Faurschou, Copenhagen, Denmark.Solo
1995 Triumph of the New York School. Kunstverein, Düsseldorf, Germany.Solo
1995 Contemporary Drawing: Exploring the Territory (curated by Mark Rosenthal) Aspen Art Museum, CO.Group
1995Drawings: Reaffirming the Media (curated by Craig Subler) University of Missouri; Kansas City Gallery of Art, MO.Group
1995Group Exhibition Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Group
1994 Landscape as Metaphor. Denver Art Museum, CO; Columbus Art Museum, OH.Solo
1994 Landscape as a Metaphor (curated by Martin Friedman) Denver Art Museum, CO; Columbus Museum of Art, OH.Group
1993 Mark Tansey. Kohn-Abrams Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.Solo
1993Mark Tansey. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Milwaukee Museum of Art, WI; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; Solo
1993Twenty-eight Pictures Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Solo
1993Brief Encounters: Meetings in Art Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY.Group
1993 I Am the Enunciator (curated by Christian Leigh) Thread Waxing Space, New York, NY.Group
1992 Mark Tansey. Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Solo
1992 Quotations: The Second History of Art The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT.Group
1991 Dead Heroes, Disfigured Love (curated by Christopher Sweet) Lorence-Monk Gallery, New York, NY.Group
1991 The Fetish of Knowledge (curated by James Hyde) Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT.Group
1991 Biennial Exhibition Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.Group
1990Mark Tansey: Art and Source (curated by Patterson Sims). Seattle Art Museum, WA; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada; St. Louis Art Museum, St. Solo
1990 Louis, MO; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; List Visual Art Center, MIT, Cambridge, MA; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX. Solo
1990 Mark Tansey. Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Solo
1990 Mark Tansey. Kunsthalle Museum, Basel, Switzerland.Solo
1990The Charade of Mastery: Deciphering Modernism in Contemporary Art Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown Branch, New York, NY.Group
1990 Harmony and Discord: American Landscape Painting Today Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA.Group
1989Image World: Art and Media Culture. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.Solo
198910+10: Contemporary Soviet & American Painters (curated by Marla Price and (Graham W.J. Beal) Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; Group
1989Broken Landscape Discarded Object (curated by Christopher Sweet) P.P.O.W., New York, NY.Group
1989 The Observatory Thomas Solomon’s Garage, Los Angeles, CA.Group
1989 Prospect 89 Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.Group
1989 Bleckner, Richter, Tansey: Works from the Collection of Robert M. Kaye. Holman Hall Group
1989Works on Paper. Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Group
1987 Documenta 8. Documenta and Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany.Solo
1987 Mark Tansey. Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Solo
1987American Art Today: The Portrait. The Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami, FL.Group
1987Avant-Garde in the Eighties. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.Group
1986Aperto 86. Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy.Solo
1986 Mark Tansey. Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY.Solo
1986Aperto 86. Venice Biennale, Italy.Group
1986 The Manor in the Landscape. Lorence-Monk Gallery, New York, NY.Group
1986Second Sight: Biennial IV (curated by Graham W.J. Beal). San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA.Group
1986Short Stories. One Penn Plaza, New York, NY.Group
1986Telling Art. Sherry French Gallery, New York, NY.Group
1985The Car Show. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA.Group
1985Contemporary Issues II. Holman Hall Art Gallery, Trenton State College, Trenton, NJ.Group
1985Real Surreal. Lorence-Monk Gallery, New York, NY.Group
1984Mark Tansey: Paintings. Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX.Solo
1984 Mark Tansey: Paintings. Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, NY.Mark Tansey: Recent Paintings and Drawings. John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA.Solo
1984Automobile and Culture. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA.Group
1984Body Politic. Tower Gallery, New York, NY.Group
1984Currents. Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA.Group
1984Drawings: After Photography (curated by William Olander). Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, OH; Mitchell Museum, Mount Vernon, IL;Group
198320th Century Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selected Recent Acquisitions.Queens Museum, Queens, New York.Group
1983Recent Acquisitions. Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.Group
1982 Mark Tansey: Paintings. Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, NY.Solo
1982Drawing-New Directions. Summit Art Center, Summit, NJ.Group
1982Painting and Sculpture Today, 1982. Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN.1981 Episodes. Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, NY.Group
1982Not Just for Laughs (curated by Marcia Tucker). The New Museum, New York, NY.Group
1980Selections 12. P.S. 122 Open Studio Exhibition New York, NY; The Drawing Center, New York, NY.Group
1978Artists of P.S. 122. Fifth Street Gallery, New York, NYGroup