Audrey Flack (1931 - present)
Oil on canvas
24 x 34 inches
Signed and dated at edge of canvas: A. Flack / 1951
Modernist style frame
Art Market, New York, about 1990
Ralph Diamond, West Harwich, Massachusetts
Private Collection, Massachusetts
Audrey Flack is an American artist best known for her photorealist paintings and sculptures. Born in New York in 1931 to a middle class family, she attended the Music and Art High School in New York City before going on to graduate from Cooper Union in 1951. At this time, Flack identified as an Abstract Expressionist and found herself having to be "one of the boys" in order to fit in.
Following her graduation from Cooper Union, Flack attended Yale University and studied under Josef Albers. It was there that Flack was influenced to move beyond abstract expressionism. Albers encouraged her to use realism instead of abstract expressionism to express her political messages. She graduated from Yale with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in 1953 and subsequently moved back to New York to study anatomy at the Art Students League. Flack’s first solo exhibition was held at the Roko Gallery in New York in 1959.
While it was considered acceptable to use a photograph as the basis of a painting prior to the birth of Photorealism, it was not considered acceptable for the painting to look like the photograph. In 1965, Flack painted her first portrait based on a photograph, imitating its colors and appearance. Her use and outspokenness about the technique isolated her from the art community and other realists. Unlike many photorealists at the time who used masculine and often unemotional subjects, Flack’s paintings concentrated on highly emotional social and political themes. She is known for her feminine color schemes, which were dominated by pastel colors One of her most well known and significant works depicts President Kennedy’s motorcade moments before his assassination. Flack became the first photorealist painter to get into the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1966.
Consistent through Flack’s career is her emphasis on symbolism. She tries to make her work “universal,” something that all audiences can relate to and understand.
The University of South Florida in Tampa organized Flack’s first retrospective exhibit in 1981. Her work has since been exhibited at Cooper Union (1986), JB Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky (1990), The Parrish Art Museum in South Hampton (1991), the Wright Art Museum in Los Angeles, CA (1992), the Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton (1996), and the Miami University Art Museum in Oxford, Ohio (1997). Flack’s work is also part of the public collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Museum of American Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Art in Canberra, Australia.