The Innocent Eye Test

Mark Tansey American

Not on view

In this wry painting, a cow stands in front of Paulus Potter’s The Young Bull, 1647, now at the Mauritshuis, The Hague, while the human experts wonder if the cow can distinguish artifice from reality. Will she bellow a greeting, or admire Monet’s Grainstack (Snow Effect), 1891, on the wall to the right? Tansey offers this critique of the role of representation in modern art as a method of revitalizing the tradition of painting. His use of grisaille, or grey monochrome, relates to the tradition of academic painting but also to his job as an illustrator for The New York Times. Such strategies of appropriation define much of the art of the 1980s in New York, where Tansey still works.

The Innocent Eye Test, Mark Tansey (American, born San Jose, California, 1949), Oil on canvas

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