Philip Pearlstein

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Philip Pearlstein

From Fred Ross

Published before 2005


His subject matter is highly self-conscious images of nude people that are purposely made ugly as if to say, “Look how honest I am about people. I make them all look ugly, like they really are. None of those Hollywood perfect body types for me.”

And his success is based on pandering to modernist impulses to undermine beauty and value and humanity.

These figures are purposely dehumanized, and sexuality is made as bestial and unappetizing as possible.

But people are not this ugly, and don’t look like this at all.

But this is not truly painting the dark underbelly of the human condition as he would try to make us think.

His people do not look like real people who might personify evil, depressed, or alienated feelings.

He actually wants you to celebrate his lack of craft and use this as his excuse for not mastering his craft, and he pushes these badly drawn and modeled figures at us as disagreeably as possible. But I see no genuine feelings here, only formalized copies of his earlier works done over and over again perhaps to meet the ongoing demand successfully created by his dealers.

Here is someone who has sufficient real success that he could afford to take the time and try to actually paint something worthwhile, but I feel as though he’s afraid to veer away from the same exact type, and quality, of work which I saw 40 years ago. His work wasn’t very good then and it’s still not now.

Or perhaps he’s just pleased with this cash cow and isn’t really interested in anything beyond the money.

-- Fred Ross