A Painter’s Painting

Image of A Painter's Painting, Ken Holder, 1976.
by Ken Holder, oil on canvas, 1976

Artist Ken Holder paints his own sunbathed studio in life-size scale, demystifying his practice and commenting on the mundane materials used to produce his art. Above all the art supplies hangs one of his cropped, self-portrait paintings from a series of similar paintings that he was working on at the time. This large studio painting does not reveal the artist’s face, but it does reveal his world. This is the world of a studio painter in the 1970s, captured with fidelity in living color.

Holder and other photorealist artists like Richard Estes, Chuck Close, and Robert Cottingham, who emerged during the late 1960s and early 1970s, often worked from photographs. They responded positively to Pop Art’s depictions of mundane objects such as Warhols’ Campbell Tomato Soup cans or his Brillo boxes. Here Holder seems to give a nod to minimalism in the blue square painted panel that he holds in his self-portrait. Yet as a realist artist, he naturally distances himself from Minimalism’s pared-down formalism and Conceptualism’s devaluation of the object.

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