Six Paintings of Mark Tansey

The six paintings shown below are published by Judi Freeman in Mark Tansey,
(Los Angles County Museum of Art - Cronicle Books - San Francisco) 1993.
The earliest painting shown here is dated 1981, and the most recent is from 1992.

These works raise the art of illustration to higher bench mark. They achieve their
pictorial depth in two distinct ways: by illusionistic rendering and by symbolic
references to the larger world of dialectic discourse. These "tarjectories" into
the raging discourse on the nature of art has opened new possibilities for painting
at a time when its future was marked for the sidelines.

The six paintings selected here are intended to show a direct concern with certian
"myths" of modern art, and most especially, the myths woven by American critics
of the fifties, sixties, and seventies.
His works directly challenge the critical assumptions that:
 (1)the historic nature of painting moves to toward "flattness",
 (2)that its "proper" subject is the interaction of color and other optical "spaces",
 (3)that its only "proper" content is this very flattness and color display,
 (4)the underlying assumption that we do directly grasp the "ture" outer world by our senses.
This is understood in philosophic discourse as "naive realism".
Critical acceptence of this position drove painting to pattern marking on over-sized paintings
that became progressively devoid of content or reference, and hence meaningless.

Mark Tansey's paintings show that these formalist dogmas criple painting by taking away
its ability to articulate thought and feeling about our world. It dogmas construct an
incumbering chamber of gates, walls, and shackels. Mark Tansey's wit and humor, brings metaphor
and discourse back into the art of painting.

The Innocent Eye Test 1981, 78 x 120 in., cat.2, p.56

"In Tansey's painted metaphor for the perception of art, we are the cow,
and the scientists want to know how and what we see --- hardly the
stuff of Frank Stella's famous dictum "What you see is what you see."

From Judi Freeman Mark Tansey

Purity Test 1982, 72 x 96 in., cat.5, p.49

...Indians on houseback gaze Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, 1970.
Smithson had sought to create a pure image. The Indians, unware of the spiral's
function as a work of art, attempt to decipher it as a symbol..."

From Judi Freeman Mark Tansey

White on White 1986, 78 x 138 in., cat.13, p.41

"In White on White", Tansey had explained, "the cues are drastically minimized give, after the first scan, later readings of dynamic oppositions [that are]
wholly different than the original seeming seamlessless..."

From Judi Freeman Mark Tansey

Mount Sainte-Victoire 1987, 100 x 155 in., cat.16, p.55

"In Tansey's 1987 Mount Sainte-Victoire (CAT.NO.16) the soldiers of poststructuralism and deconstruction---Jean Baudrillard (seated second from left), Barthes (recumbent,
lighting a cigarette), and Derrida (standing, removing his overcoat)---disrobe in the shadow
of Cézanne's mountain. Shedding their uniforms, they are transformed in their reflections
into women. The men on the shore (at left) are flanked by the arching trees of Cézanne's
1906 Bathers. All appear engulfed in the mucky depths of Plato's cave.

Aided by Derrida's 1978 book Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles, Tansey explores the nature of
representation through the study of transformation." These are..."optimistically suggestive
of the possibilities other than those suggested by Greenberg and his cohorts."

From Judi Freeman Mark Tansey