Philip Pearlstein

New Works

Now aged 86, the master of contemporary realism Philip Pearlstein has chosen Galerie Daniel Templon to show a collection of a dozen canvases painted over the last three years.

The artist has been building on his very own brand of figurative work, focused on painting life-size nudes, since the early 1960s. During a period marked by the flowering of Abstract Expressionism and birth of Pop Art, he represented “this other America” (E. Lucie-Smith), opening up a third artistic path that he is still exploring today.

His nude women and men, draped over pieces of furniture or on patterned rugs, frozen in the stark light, appear primarily as still lifes. Taking a different approach from the traditional idealizing tradition and the photorealism of his friend and contemporary Chuck Close, Philip Pearlstein’s work is rooted in perception, thus incorporating all the optical distortions introduced by the eye of the painter.

Starting in the 1980s, the artist-as-collector began to introduce folk art and crafts objects into his paintings. Elements such as puppets, kimonos, weathervanes, birdcages and model boats turn the studio into a real cabinet of curiosities. But Philip Pearstein’s motives remain purely visual: he refuses to give meaning to his studio scenes or play with the symbols hidden in his detailed imagery.

In 2010, the painter continues to put his approach to the test with dazzling compositions where human models, abstract motifs and enigmatic objects are juxtaposed. These complex structural arrangements bring him closer to Mondrian, a painter he particularly admires.


Philip Pearlstein is also a master of the art of framing and cutting. Pairs of legs or torsos seen from above or below reveal his taste for classical-style fragments and for the eye of the cinema camera. His pieces may be impossible to reduce to mere interpretation, but they know how to “generously reward the eye” (Robert Storr).

Born in 1924 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Philip Pearlstein lives and works in New York.

He trained at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where Andy Warhol was a fellow student, then the New York University Institute of Fine Arts. Throughout his career, the artist has held teaching and art critic posts at a variety of institutions including Yale University, the Pratt Institute and Brooklyn College.

New York’s Brooklyn Museum held a retrospective of his work in 1983. His art was recently exhibited at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey (2009). His paintings are featured in over sixty public American collections, including at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and The National Gallery of Art (Washington), as well as at Tate Britain (London), the Berlin Nationalgalerie, Museum Ludwig (Cologne) and Museu Colecção Berardo (Lisbon).

The artist


Born in 1924 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Philip Pearlstein died in 2022. He is considered to be one of the masters of new figuration and modernist realism. He has been examining the question of how the model is represented since the 1960s, his complex works straddling the line between naturalism, abstraction and hyperrealism. His still lives in oil feature nudes with mask-like expressions, often women, in carefully arranged interiors.

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