Skip to content

Philip Pearlstein


May 10 – June 17, 2018

Image of Two Models, Rooster Weathervane, Luna Park Lion and Blow-up Dinosaur
Image of Two Models, Polished Steel Chair and Swan Decoy
Image of Two Models, Kiddie Car Airplane, Zebra and African Mask
Image of Two Models with Giraffe, Dinosaur and Bent-Wood Rocker
Two Models with Giraffe and Bird Masks, Chrome Chair and Bookshelves, 2016, Oil on canvas
Image of Two Models with Four Goose Decoys
Two Models with Eames Lounge Chair, African Mask, Drum and Carousel Ostrich,2018, Oil on canvas
Two Models, Hunzinger Chair and Wooden Crocodile, 2018

Press Release

Betty Cuningham Gallery is pleased to open Philip Pearlstein: Today, which features recent paintings. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Thursday, May 10th, from 6-8 PM.

In 1971, Pearlstein clearly stated his position on realsim in an article, “Why I Paint the Way I Do”, which appeared in the New York Times on August 22 of that year. The article, which is reproduced in full in the exhibition catalogue, is as strikingly relevant to Pearlstein’s painting today as it was in 1971. In fact, Pearlstein had suggested ‘Alone in the Jungle’ as a title for this article, indicating how alone he felt in his particular approach to realism. Unlike the other realists of the time, Pearlstein chose to paint exactly what he saw, without resorting to photography or narrative. 

I meant to create strong aggressive paintings that would compete with the best of abstraction.

As seen in the paintings on view, Pearlstein remains sustained by a voracious hunger to paint exactly what is in front of him. Over time his paintings have evolved in their visual complexity, challenging his skill yet adhering to the original premise of an abstracted realism that he set forth in 1971.

Philip Pearlstein was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1924.  He received a BFA from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949 and an MA from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1955. That same year he had his first solo show at Tanager Gallery. Among Pearlstein's honors are a National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1968; a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, 1969; and election to the American Academy and Institute 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.  Honorary Doctorates received from: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, 1983; Brooklyn College, Brooklyn; College of Art & Design, Detroit; New York Academy of Arts, New York; and Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Old Lyme. Adding to his extensive exhibiting history, Pearlstein was recently featured in Salon 004 at the Saatchi Gallery in London, with a solo exhibition, Paintings 1990-2017. 

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, New York, NY; Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

The exhibition will remain on view through June 17th.