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Painting People

The State of the Art

Charlotte Mullins

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An in-depth survey of figure painting’s renaissance in the contemporary art world


After a century in which the range of art materials expanded to include film and photography, performance, found objects and concepts, the spotlight has again swung back to painting. A new generation of artists is relishing the solitary, slow, subtle processes involved in painting people, preferring paint’s unique ability to distil a lifetime of events to photography’s glimpse of a frozen moment.

Charlotte Mullins illustrates the work of over 85 artists. Many choose to take a wry look at the figure in scenes of everyday life, while others prefer alien life forms or parallel universes. Some focus on the human figure itself, while a rising group of young painters draws inspiration from folk art or social realism. In a world awash with images, artists are also finding new and vital ways of using the found image to explore the relationships between realism and abstraction.

The work of these contemporary champions of painting the human figure is displayed in over 200 reproductions, a lucid text and detailed commentaries, complete with artist biographies.

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'Eye-opening, well-researched … spotlights new talent and includes fascinating, little-known artists like Bénédicte Page alongside current stars like Cecily Brown'
RA Magazine

'Admirable … this book is proof that 'contemporary' does not have to mean shallow or half-baked'
Artists & Illustrators

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 27.5 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 192 pp

Illustrations: 205

Publication date: 9 June 2008

ISBN: 9780500287477

Contents List

Introduction • 1. The Figure Unravelled • 2. Inhabiting Other Worlds 3. The Urban Condition • 4. The Past Deconstructed • 5. Folk Tales and Freedom • Artists Biographies • List of Works

About the Author

Charlotte Mullins is an art critic, writer and broadcaster. She has worked as the arts editor of the Independent on Sunday, the editor of Art Review, the V&A Magazine and Art Quarterly, and has written over ten books, two of which are art books for children, which were published under the pen name Charlie Ayres.