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I Love Mud

Philip Pearlstein

November 11, 2021 – January 22, 2022

Philip Pearlstein watercolor showing the view out of his window on 36th street
Philip Pearlstein watercolor showing duck decoys on a rug
Philip Pearlstein watercolor showing antiquities on a shelf
Philip Pearlstein watercolor showing antique toys on a round wooden table

Press Release

Betty Cuningham Gallery is pleased to open I Love Mud, an exhibition of Philip Pearlstein’s recent watercolors. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Thursday, November 11th, from 6–8 PM. Philip Pearlstein, whose name is synonymous with figure painting, was forced to turn to other subjects for his art when the pandemic forced him into lockdown. Surrounded by his vast collection of art, antiquities, Americana, souvenirs and toys, all housed in his home studio, Pearlstein looked to these objects with new respect and interest.


Pearlstein’s regular conversations with his friend, Patterson Sims, were highlights of his months of isolation. Philip would share images of his watercolors from start to finish  and the two would discuss each work at length. In the fully illustrated catalogue which accompanies the exhibition, Sims gives an overview of his thoughts on Pearlstein as he enters a new chapter of his career: “Undaunted neither by his necessitated change of subject and medium nor his advanced age and physical challenges, Pearlstein is adding a new chapter to the long story of his art and making some of the most technically ambitious and emotionally poignant artworks of his nearly seventy-year professional career.” Pearlstein adds humor to his new direction – after concentrating hard and fast on the many antiquities that he has collected, he comes to the conclusion, to his surprise, that he must really love mud.

Philip Pearlstein, born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1924, received a BFA from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949 and an MA from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1955. He had his first solo show at Tanager Gallery in 1955. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1968; a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, 1969; election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1982 for which he served as President from 2003–2006; and recently the Icon Award in the Arts from the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT. Pearlstein has received Honorary Doctorates from: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh; Brooklyn College, Brooklyn; College of Art & Design, Detroit; New York Academy of Arts, New York; and Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Old Lyme, CT. Pearlstein’s work is in many museum collections, most notably: The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Morgan Library and Museum, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.


The current exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue and will remain on view until January 22, 2022.