Mark Tansey - A Short History of Modernist Painting, 1979-80, oil on canvas

A Short History of Modernist Painting

Accession Date:
04/23/85
Accession Number:
F-TANS-1P85.32
1979-80
oil on canvas
72 x 72 in. (182.88 x 182.88 cm)

About This Artwork

A Short History of Modernist Painting presents a storyboard of the problems and interests of painting over many decades. Mark Tansey’s interpretation of this history starts with the belief that painting is a window to, and representation of, the world, an idea long attributed to the Italian architect and theorist Leon Battista Alberti. Tansey’s series of pictorial allegories shows how Alberti’s idea has been expanded and critiqued by modernism. Often in the work, references to particular artists or moments in recent art history are recognizable: Carl Andre’s tiles of metal, Jasper Johns’s target, and Chris Burden’s famous 1971 Shoot piece (portrayed here as a scene of knife throwing). Movements such as performance art, body art, minimalism, and others can be identified as well. Ultimately, Tansey demonstrates art as inclusive of painting and yet far beyond it, art as capable of using any medium and open to almost any subject.