Friday, January 12, 2024

George Tooker, 1920-2011

George Tooker (1920-2011) was an artist whose career was jumpstarted by Lincoln Kirstein in 1946 when Mr. K. insisted that his work be included in an important New York gallery show of new artists.  George was the lover at the time of Paul Cadmus, Lincoln's brother-in-law, and was for several years closely associated with the PaJaMa Collective.  His art, as you will see, was greatly influenced by that of Jared French and eventually became highly acclaimed.  Photo by George Platt Lynes.

This is Fountain from 1950, and the Jared French influence is on full display.  Perhaps ironically, George Tooker's version of Magic Realism had more staying power than French's.

Margaret Hoening French took this photo of (l-r) George Tooker, Paul Cadmus, and Jared French at Fire Island in the late 1940s.  In a confusing and fluid pattern of relationships, Margaret was married to Jared who had an on and off sexual relationship with Paul who took George as a lover during this time.  Are we confused yet?  As you will see in a later post, Lincoln Kirstein had a similar situation.
Below, we see a PaJaMa photo of George taken at Nantucket.

At some point in the mid-1950s George Tooker moved on from
 his relationship with PaJaMa, but his art career evolved and thrived.

This is George Tooker's Sleep from 1964.

Window XI from 1999.

In 2007 George Tooker won the National Medal of Arts awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts.  Although I didn't pst any today, his haunting paintings of scenes of urban alienation gave him a solid reputation and legacy.  Bush II presented the medal, above.



  1. The photo of George at Nantucket is a favorite. A beautiful image.

  2. What a fascinating life! Good art and interesting relationships and hot.
    And National ENDOWMENT of The Arts. Sorry for the cheap joke.
    Great post.

    1. You're completely forgiven, and thanks for the compliment.