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Mark Tansey is an American postmodern painter best known for monochromatic works which include commentary in their title, for example The Triumph of the New York School from 1984.
Although Mark Tansey uses depiction of recognizable objects in realistic perspective states he is not a "realist" painter, because photography has co-opted the role of realism in painting. He argues that representation has other functions rather than "capturing the real." He argues that his work is about "how different realities interact with each other."
In the 1970s, influenced by the work of Rene Magritte's eight methods, he began to search for ways of displaying oppositions and contradictions as the motivation for a painting. From this he decided that illustration and representation were fundamentally necessary to heal the rift between art and practice, between symbol and meaning.
He states: "Conflict is the easiest notion [from which] to begin developing a narrative: one thing versus another. . . .crises and conflicts were results of oppositions and contradictions and these were what was necessary to activate or motivate a picture. Magritte's work also led me to wonder if this sort of conflict could take place on other levels of content, more quietly, internally, more plausibly. Could a conventional picture include many less apparent crises- the way everyday life does - without the use of overt surrealistic devices?"
The implication is that he as an artist is searching for a "drive" to incorporate in his subjects, that would engage the viewer intellectually, while avoiding simple visual methods and opting for a more subtle and, consequently, more sophisticated and effective approach. Most of his paintings can readily be used as examples of that approach, where at first glance nothing is out of ordinary, but then it becomes apparent that certain elements are out of context, while remaining coherent visually, thus creating the conflict.
His parents are Dr. Richard Tansey, who edited several editions of Gardner's Art Through the Ages, and Luraine Tansey, an eminent slide librarian.
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