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Artists Audrey Flack

Audrey Flack

American Painter and Sculptor

Audrey Flack Photo
Movements and Styles: Abstract Expressionism, Photorealism

Born: May 30, 1931 - New York

"For me art is a continuous discovery into reality, an exploration of visual data which has been going on for centuries, each artist contributing to the next generation's advancement."

Audrey Flack Signature

Summary

Following an early, and comparatively successful, flirtation with Abstract Expressionism, Audrey Flack turned to figurative self-portraiture, a change in direction that was a response in part to challenging personal circumstances. Once her domestic situation had improved, however, Flack moved away from the 'self' and addressed herself to the object world using the copying, tracing, and enlarging methods associated with the aesthetics of Photorealism. Flack's new-found success was such that she became a highly revered and established figure within the art establishment. But rather than try and repeat her greatest triumphs, Flack turned to sculpture as a means of exploring issues of history and female representations, chiefly through the three-dimensional figure of the classical goddess. Latterly she has returned to two-dimensional work using painting and printmaking in her quest to rework the heroic - post-modern - female figure.

Key Ideas

Moving away from the large-scale gestural abstractions that marked the very beginnings of her career, Flack turned to narrative subject matter via a series of authentic self-portraits. Having formally studied anatomical art, Flack took her lead from no less a figure than Rembrandt, producing what were unadorned self-examinations typically realized, like Rembrandt, through sombre, earthy tones.
As she moved into Photorealism, Flack turned her gaze onto the outside world. She achieved the photo-real effect by projecting, tracing, and re-coloring real historical events onto over-size canvases. She also produced Vanitas works - traditionally still-life paintings featuring religious and moral symbolism - through which she brought iconic photographic images from the past into new relationships with everyday perishables and chattels. Flack would often use an airbrush as a means of bringing the burnished gleam of advertising to her subject matter thus lending her art a dramatic, hyperrealistic quality.
Turning her attentions to three-dimensions, Flack used sculpture as a means of exploring ideas around the politics of female representation. Her new female icons were typically based on ancient mythology - Medusa (1989) and Sofia (1995) for instance - only reimagined by Flack for the post-modern age. She brought her figures into the contemporary sphere through many self-conscious and kitsch allusions to pop culture. Her sculptures contested the idea of mythical and archetypal representations of women by making her figures instantly relatable for contemporary spectators.
Audrey Flack Photo

Audrey Flack was born in Washington Heights, New York in 1931 into a middle-class family. Her parents were Eastern-European emigres and, so she would become a successor to the Jewish tradition and culture, young Audrey was taught Hebrew and attended Jewish camp during the summer holidays. At junior high school, however, Flack was a restless and disruptive student and as punishment she was often sent to a desk in the corridor where she was given pencils and paper to keep her occupied. Somewhat ironically, it was through her expulsions from class that she discovered her vocation. Flack had found a sense of purpose in art and she duly graduated to "class artist" making calendars and art displays for the school. On a more personal level, Flack had become so entranced by the swimmer-cum-actress Esther Williams that she made a diorama in her heroine's honour. Her admiration for iconic female figures would serve her well in her later career too.

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