George Tooker (left) receiving the National Medal of Arts from George W. Bush in 2007
August 5, 1920|
Brooklyn, New York
|Died||March 27, 2011
|Awards||National Medal of Arts|
George Clair Tooker, Jr. (August 5, 1920 – March 27, 2011) was an American figurative painter whose works are associated with the Magic realism and Social realism movements. He was one of nine recipients of the National Medal of Arts in 2007.
Tooker was raised by his Anglo/French-American father George Clair Tooker and English/Spanish-Cuban mother Angela Montejo Roura in Brooklyn Heights and Bellport, New York, along with his sister, Mary Fancher Tooker. Tooker wanted to attend art school rather than college, but ultimately abided by his parents' wishes and majored in English literature at Harvard University, while still devoting much of his time to painting. During 1942, he graduated from college and then entered the Marine Corps but was discharged due to ill health. Tooker had a long-time partner, William R. Christopher, who died in 1973. Although he was raised in a religious Episcopalian family, he later converted to Catholicism.
In 1943, Tooker began attending at the Art Students League of New York where he studied with Reginald Marsh and Kenneth Hayes Miller. Early in his career, Tooker's work was often compared with painters such as Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and his close friends Jared French and Paul Cadmus. His work was included in the “Fourteen Americans” show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1946, and was also shown in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and other major museums.
Working with the then-revitalized tradition of egg tempera, Tooker addressed issues of modern-day alienation with subtly eerie and often visually literal depictions of social withdrawal and isolation. Subway (1950; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City) and Government Bureau (1956; Metropolitan Museum of Art) are two of his best-known paintings. "Waiting Room" (1957; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.) reveals him as a Social Realism painter.
Tooker was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1968 and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2007, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Tooker lived for many years in Hartland, Vermont.
DC Moore Gallery represents the Estate of George Tooker. The first exhibition of his works at the gallery was in April 2007
Further reading 
- George Tooker. David Tunkl Gallery, Los Angeles 1980. Text by Merry A. Foresta. ISBN 0-936680-00-8
- George Tooker. Thomas Garver 1985 Imago: Creative Director Arnold Skolnick
- George Tooker, Reality Recurs as a Dream 1920-2011 (exhibition catalogue), DC Moore Gallery, 2012
- George Tooker, (exhibition catalogue), DC Moore Gallery, 2000
- George Tooker, (exhibition catalogue), DC Moore Gallery, 1998
- George Tooker papers, 1932-1973, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
- "GEORGE TOOKER: Painter, Hartland, VT". 2007 National Medal of Arts: Press Release. National Endowment for the Arts: News Room. November 14, 2007. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
- William Grimes (March 29, 2011). "George Tooker, Painter Capturing Modern Anxieties, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
- Harvard, John. [harvardmagazine.com "Obituaries, July–August 2011"] Check
- Smee, Sebastian (29 March 2011). "George Tooker, 1920-2011". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
- "George Tooker (1920-2011) - "Waiting Room", 1957". Retrieved September 10, 2011.
- "DC Moore Gallery artist page". Retrieved 29 January 2013.
- ARTFIX daily George Tooker dies at 90
- Progressive Living resource Comprehensive biography and gallery
- Columbus Museum of Art Web page on Tooker's 1964 painting Lunch (click on picture for larger image)
- Ten Dreams Galleries
- Figureworks.com/20th Century work at www.figureworks.com
- NEA bio-pic
-  George Tooker artist page, DC Moore Gallery
- George Tooker, "Capturing Modern Anxieties
- Artist George Tooker dies
- George Tooker New Yorker article