Menu Skip to content

Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, A Short History of Modern Painting (Triptych), 1982 Oil on canvas, overall: 58 × 120 inches (147.3 × 304.8 cm)© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, A Short History of Modern Painting (Triptych), 1982

Oil on canvas, overall: 58 × 120 inches (147.3 × 304.8 cm)
© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Eve, 1982 Pencil on paper, 6 ⅜ × 5 ½ inches (16.2 × 14 cm)© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Eve, 1982

Pencil on paper, 6 ⅜ × 5 ½ inches (16.2 × 14 cm)
© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Achilles and the Tortoise, 1986 Oil on canvas, 111 × 76 inches (281.9 × 193 cm)© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Achilles and the Tortoise, 1986

Oil on canvas, 111 × 76 inches (281.9 × 193 cm)
© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Continental Divide, 1994 Oil on canvas, 65 × 84 ½ inches (165.1 × 214.6 cm)© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Continental Divide, 1994

Oil on canvas, 65 × 84 ½ inches (165.1 × 214.6 cm)
© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Judging, 1997 Graphite on paper, 40 ¼ × 59 ¾ inches (102.2 × 151.8 cm)© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Judging, 1997

Graphite on paper, 40 ¼ × 59 ¾ inches (102.2 × 151.8 cm)
© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Push/Pull, 2003 Oil on canvas, 84 × 109 inches (213.4 × 276.9 cm)© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Push/Pull, 2003

Oil on canvas, 84 × 109 inches (213.4 × 276.9 cm)
© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Garden, 2006 Oil on canvas, 48 × 36 inches (121.9 × 91.4 cm)© Mark Tansey. Photo: Rob McKeever

Mark Tansey, Garden, 2006

Oil on canvas, 48 × 36 inches (121.9 × 91.4 cm)
© Mark Tansey. Photo: Rob McKeever

Mark Tansey, Epigene, 2008 Oil on canvas, 58 × 56 inches (147.3 × 147.2 cm)© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Epigene, 2008

Oil on canvas, 58 × 56 inches (147.3 × 147.2 cm)
© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Invisible Hand, 2011 Oil on canvas, 83 ⅞ × 71 ⅞ inches (213 × 182.6 cm)© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Invisible Hand, 2011

Oil on canvas, 83 ⅞ × 71 ⅞ inches (213 × 182.6 cm)
© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Revelever, 2012 Oil on canvas, 78 × 72 inches (198.1 × 182.9 cm)© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Revelever, 2012

Oil on canvas, 78 × 72 inches (198.1 × 182.9 cm)
© Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey, Reverb, 2017 Oil on canvas, 84 × 60 inches (213.4 × 152.4 cm)© Mark Tansey. Photo: Rob McKeever

Mark Tansey, Reverb, 2017

Oil on canvas, 84 × 60 inches (213.4 × 152.4 cm)
© Mark Tansey. Photo: Rob McKeever

About

Pictures should be able to function across the fullest range of content. The conceptual should be able to mingle with the formal and subject matter should enjoy intimate relations with both.
—Mark Tansey

Each of Mark Tansey’s paintings is a visual adventure that explores the nature of perception, meaning, and subjectivity. Working with the traditions of figurative and landscape painting, Tansey incorporates his expansive knowledge of history in layers of literary, philosophical, and mathematical references. Distortions of perspective and scale combine with his technical mastery to complicate what it means to view and understand an image.

Growing up in San Jose, California, with an art historian for a father, Tansey became familiar with art at a young age. This experience kick-started the mental and physical database of visual references that he continues to draw on for his meticulously detailed paintings today. In 1969 Tansey enrolled at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, where he began to explore the appropriation of mass media, prefiguring the work of the Pictures Generation, who would investigate similar questions in the 1980s. In 1974 Tansey moved to New York and enrolled in the graduate program at Hunter College, where he further explored the ways in which historical arcs could be reimagined and presented in surreal tableaux.

Tansey’s paintings are monochromatic and possess a near-photographic precision, accomplished through a subtractive painting process: Tansey first primes his canvas with white gesso, then blocks out the general forms of the composition by covering sections with color, and finally carefully removes layers of paint to reveal varying degrees of the canvas beneath. He works between New York and Portsmouth, Rhode Island, producing about one painting every two years, each composed from arrangements of countless sketches, collages, and collected ephemera.

In 2004 an exhibition of Tansey’s recent paintings at Gagosian’s West 24th Street gallery in New York marked the first time that he used ultramarine blue, a hue that is now characteristic of his oeuvre. Praised for their sense of urgency, the ultramarine paintings depict sublime natural landscapes punctuated with small figures, ships navigating through towering waves, and vertigo-inducing reflections, cleverly conflating up and down, then and now. Though the complex scenes are rendered with schematic exactitude, as the viewer peers in to examine the many details, intimate expressive moments are revealed, where the fluidity of paint asserts itself without distracting from the overall hyperreal effect.

Mark Tansey

Photo: DPA Picture Alliance Archive/Alamy Stock Photo

From the Quarterly

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Georg Baselitz, Frau am Strand (Woman on the Beach), 1981 © Georg Baselitz 2018

Art Fair

Art Basel

June 14–17, 2018
Messe Basel, booth B11
www.artbasel.com

Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel 2018, presenting works by modern and contemporary artists including Georg Baselitz, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Jennifer Guidi, Andreas Gursky, Neil Jenney, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Takashi Murakami, Giuseppe Penone, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, and Tom Wesselmann. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at inquire@gagosian.com. To preview our booth go to www.artsy.net. To purchase tickets to attend the fair go to www.artbasel.com.

Georg Baselitz, Frau am Strand (Woman on the Beach), 1981 © Georg Baselitz 2018

Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018

Art Fair

Art Basel Hong Kong

March 29–31, 2018, booth ICI8
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
www.artbasel.com

Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong. To view highlights from the booth in advance of the fair visit www.artsy.com. Our presentation will include works by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, Alexander Calder, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Edmund De Waal, Jean Dubuffet, Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Walton Ford, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Karen Kneffel, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zeng Fanzhi. Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.

Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018

Mark Tansey, Push/Pull, 2003

In Conversation

Mark Tansey
Peter Drake

Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 6:30pm
New York Academy of Art
www.nyaa.edu

Mark Tansey and Peter Drake will participate in a talk in conjunction with the exhibition they co-curated, Figurative Diaspora. The show presents works of “unofficial art”—subversive, non-state sanctioned art—created by five Soviet artists and five contemporary Chinese artists. It is the first exhibition to trace the direct artistic influences of the USSR on the artists of the People’s Republic of China. 

Mark Tansey, Push/Pull, 2003

See all News for Mark Tansey