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.
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 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.
Recent Paintings and Graphite Drawings
November 12–December 17, 2021
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Painters without Borders
The exhibition Figurative Diaspora, co-curated by Mark Tansey and Peter Drake, presented paintings by five Chinese artists alongside work by five Russian artists, all of whom create “unofficial,” subversive, non-state-sanctioned art, thus tracing the influences of art across borders.
Curated by Mark Tansey and Peter Drake of the New York Academy of Art, Figurative Diaspora presents works of “unofficial art”—subversive, non-state sanctioned art—created by five Soviet artists and five contemporary Chinese artists.
Alexander Wolf guides us through a multilayered new painting by the celebrated artist.
Basel Online 2020
In our most significant online sales presentation to date, Gagosian unveils important works by modern and contemporary masters through two separate online platforms—Gagosian Online and Art Basel Online. These individually curated selections offer collectors direct access to artworks of the highest caliber. To experience the presentation in its entirety, viewers will need to visit both gagosian.com and artbasel.com. The works on gagosian.com will rotate every forty-eight hours, for a total of five cycles.
Helen Frankenthaler, Orange Underline, 1963 © 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Thursday, March 5, 2020, 6:30pm
Gagosian, Britannia Street, London
Join Gagosian for a tour of the group exhibition American Pastoral. The show juxtaposes modern and contemporary works with historical American landscapes ranging from Albert Bierstadt’s depiction of the sublime in Sunset over the River (1877) to Edward Hopper’s tranquil seaside scene, Gloucester Harbor (1926). Gagosian’s Alice Godwin will focus on a select grouping of exhibited works that seek to challenge the idealized vision of the American Dream that has long been a rich topic of inquiry for artists in the United States. To attend the free event, RSVP to email@example.com. Space is limited.
Installation view, American Pastoral, Gagosian, Britannia Street, London, January 23–March 14, 2020. Artwork, left to right: © Theaster Gates, © Adam McEwen, Thomas Moran, © Richard Prince, © Banks Violette, © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Lucy Dawkins
West Bund Art & Design 2019
November 8–10, 2019, booth A121
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
Gagosian is pleased to participate in West Bund Art & Design 2019, presenting works by Georg Baselitz, Joe Bradley, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Grotjahn, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Robert Indiana, Jeff Koons, Joan Mitchell, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Mark Tansey, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, and Jonas Wood, among others.
To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Bradley, Daylight, 2019 © Joe Bradley