Audrey Flack

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Audrey Flack
Audrey Flack.JPG
Artist’s signature on bronze
Born (1931-05-30) 30 May 1931 (age 91)
EducationThe High School of Music & Art
New York University Institute of Fine Arts
Yale University
Cooper Union
Known forPainting, Sculpture
SpouseH.Robert Marcus

Audrey L. Flack (born May 30, 1931) is an American artist. Her work pioneered the art genre of photorealism and encompasses painting, sculpture, and photography.

Flack has numerous academic degrees, including both a graduate and an honorary doctorate degree from Cooper Union in New York City. Additionally she has a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Yale University and attended New York University Institute of Fine Arts where she studied art history. In May 2015, Flack received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Clark University, where she also gave a commencement address.

Flack's work is displayed in several major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Flack's photorealistic paintings were the first such paintings to be purchased for the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection, and her legacy as a photorealist lives on to influence many American and International artists today. J. B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, organized a retrospective of her work, and Flack’s pioneering efforts into the world of photorealism popularized the genre to the extent that it remains today.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Flack attended New York's High School of Music & Art.[2] She studied fine arts in New York from 1948 to 1953, studying under Josef Albers among others.[3] She earned a graduate degree and received an honorary doctorate from Cooper Union in New York City, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Yale University. She studied art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.[4]

  • 1953 New York University Institute of Fine Arts, New York City
  • 1952 BFA, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 1948-51 Cooper Union, New York City[4]


Audrey Flack, Banana Split Sundae, 1981. Minneapolis Institute of Art

Flack's early work in the 1950s was abstract expressionist; one such painting paid tribute to Franz Kline. The ironic kitsch themes in her early work influenced Jeff Koons.[5] But gradually, Flack became a New Realist and then evolved into photorealism during the 1960s. Her move to the photorealist style was in part because she wanted her art to communicate to the viewer.[6] She was the first photorealist painter to be added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1966.[7] Between 1976 and 1978 she painted her Vanitas series, including the piece Marilyn.[8]

The critic Graham Thompson wrote, "One demonstration of the way photography became assimilated into the art world is the success of photorealist painting in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is also called super-realism, radical realism, or hyper-realism and painters like Richard Estes, Denis Peterson, Flack, and Chuck Close often worked from photographic stills to create paintings that appeared to be photographs."[9]

Art critic Robert C. Morgan writes in The Brooklyn Rail about Flack's 2010 exhibition at Gary Snyder Project Space, Audrey Flack Paints a Picture, "She has taken the signs of indulgence, beauty, and excess and transformed them into deeply moving symbols of desire, futility, and emancipation."[10] In the early 1980s Flack's artistic medium shifted from painting to sculpture.[6] She describes this shift as a desire for "something solid, real, tangible. Something to hold and to hold on to."[11]

Flack has claimed to have found the photorealist movement too restricting, and now gains much of her inspiration from Baroque art.[citation needed]

Flack is currently represented by the Louis K. Meisel Gallery and Hollis Taggart Galleries. Her work is held in the collections of museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Australia.

She was awarded the St. Gaudens Medal from Cooper Union, and the honorary Albert Dome professorship from Bridgeport University. She is an honorary professor at George Washington University, is currently a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania and has taught and lectured extensively both nationally, and internationally.[4]

In 1986 Flack published Art & Soul: Notes on Creating, a book expressing some of her thoughts on being an artist.[11]

Her image is included in the iconic 1972 poster Some Living American Women Artists by Mary Beth Edelson.[12]


Audrey Flack is best known for her photo-realist paintings and was one of the first artists to use photographs as the basis for painting.[6] The genre, taking its cues from Pop Art, incorporates depictions of the real and the regular, from advertisements to cars to cosmetics. Flack's work brings in everyday household items like tubes of lipstick, perfume bottles, Hispanic Madonnas, and fruit.[6] These inanimate objects often disturb or crowd the pictorial space, which are often composed as table-top still lives. Flack often brings in actual accounts of history into her photorealist paintings, such as World War II' (Vanitas) and Kennedy Motorcade. Women were frequently the subject of her photo-realist paintings.[6]


Sculpture by Audrey Flack in New Orleans.
Statue of Catherine of Braganza, in Lisbon — scale model for a much larger one planned for Queens NYC, never built.

Audrey Flack's sculpture is often overlooked in light of her better-known Photorealist paintings. In this interview, Flack discusses the fact that she is self-taught in sculpture. She incorporates religion and mythology into her sculpture rather than the historical or everyday subjects of her paintings. Her sculptures often demonstrate a connection to the female form, including a series of diverse, heroic women and goddess figures. These depictions of women differ from those of traditional femininity, but rather are athletic, older, and strong. As Flack describes them: "they are real yet idealized... the 'goddesses in everywoman.'"[6]

In the early 1990s, Flack was commissioned by a group called Friends of Queen Catherine to create a monumental bronze statue of Catherine of Braganza, in whose honor the borough of Queens is named. The statue, which would have been roughly the height of a nine-story building, was meant to be installed on the East River shore in the Hunters Point area of Long Island City, across from the United Nations.[13] The project was never fully realized, however, as protestors in the mid-late 1990s objected to Queen Catherine's ties to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. (Others objected to the statue of a monarch overlooking a Revolutionary War battleground.)[14] Flack nevertheless remained dedicated to the project, and notes that she endeavored to depict Catherine as biracial, reflecting her Portuguese background and paying homage to the ethnic diversity of the borough of Queens.[15] Several preliminary models of the statue are now in public collections, including the Butler Institute of American Art and the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 2017 "Audrey Flack: Master Drawings from Crivelli," Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY
  • 2015-2016 "Heroines: Audrey Flack's Transcendent Drawings and Prints," Williams Center Galleries, Lafayette College, PA; The Hyde Collection Art Museum & Historic House, Glens Falls, NY; The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
  • 2015 "Audrey Flack: The Abstract Expressionist Years," Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY
  • 2012 "Audrey Flack: Sculpture, 1989-2012," Garth Greenan Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2010 "Audrey Flack Paints a Picture," Gary Snyder Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2007 "Daphne Speaks: An Exhibition of Sculpture and Master Workshop Prints," University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
  • 2007 "Audrey Flack: Abstract Expressionist," Rider University Art Gallery, Lawrenceville, NJ
  • 2007 "Plasters and Disasters - Audrey Flack's Recent Sculpture," Kingsborough Community College, NY
  • 2002 "Drawings, Watercolors and Sculptures - Responses to 9/11," Vered Gallery, East Hampton, New York
  • 2001 "Plein Air Watercolors and Drawings," Bernaducci-Meisel Gallery, New York, New York
  • 1999 "Icons of the 20th Century," Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
  • 1998 "Audrey Flack - New Work," Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York
  • 1996 "Daphne Speaks," Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York
  • 1996 "Amor Vincit Omnia," Art Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia

Public collections[edit]

  • Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
  • St. Louis Museum of Art, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Dallas Museum of Fine Art, Dallas, Texas
  • University of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
  • Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
  • Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
  • Stuart M. Speiser Collection, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
  • HHK Foundation for Contemporary Art, Inc., New York, New York
  • Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  • San Francisco Museum of Fine Art, San Francisco, California
  • National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
  • University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
  • Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut
  • Capricorn Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
  • New York University Collections, New York, New York
  • Reynolda House Museum, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Art Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia
  • Speed Museum of Art, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, Florida
  • Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
  • Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
  • Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington North Carolina
  • The Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa Florida [16]
  • East Hampton Center for Contemporary Art, East Hampton, New York
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Legacy and honors[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Baskind, Samantha, Jewish Artists and the Bible in Twentieth-Century America,Philadelphia, PA, Penn State University Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0-271-05983-9
  • Flack, Audrey, Thalia Gouma-Peterson, and Patricia Hills. Breaking the Rules: Audrey Flack, a Retrospective 1950-1990. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1992.
  • Mattison, Robert S., Audrey Flack: The Abstract Expressionist Years Archived 2017-05-28 at the Wayback Machine, New York, Hollis Taggart Galleries, 2015, ISBN 978-0-988-91397-4.
  • Flack, Audrey, Art & Soul: Notes on Creating, New York, Dutton, 1986, ISBN 0-525-24443-3


  1. ^ Meisel, Louis. "Biography of Audrey Flack". Archived from the original on 2008-03-18. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  2. ^ "Oral history interview with Audrey Flack," Archived November 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art website (2009 Feb. 16).
  3. ^ "Audrey Flack papers, circa 1952-2008". Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Biography". Audrey Flack. Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  5. ^ arts, Women in the (2010-05-19). "From NMWA's Vault: Audrey Flack". Broad Strokes: The National Museum of Women in the Arts' Blog. Archived from the original on 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Gaze, Delia (1997). Dictionary of Women Artists. Chicago, IL: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. pp. 526. ISBN 1-884964-21-4.
  7. ^ "Audrey Flack Biography". Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  8. ^ "Audrey Flack's Marilyn: Still Life, Vanitas, Trompe l'Oeil". The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  9. ^ Thompson, Graham: American Culture in the 1980s (Twentieth Century American Culture), Edinburgh University Press, 2007
  10. ^ Morgan, Robert C. (November 2010). "Audrey Flack and the Revolution of Still Life Painting". The Brooklyn Rail.
  11. ^ a b Flack, Audrey. (1 October 1986). Art & Soul: Notes on Creating. Dutton. ISBN 978-0-525-24443-1. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Some Living American Women Artists/Last Supper". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  13. ^ Fried, Joseph P. (1992-07-26). "Catherine of Queens?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  14. ^ Bearak, Barry (1998-01-09). "The Queen of Ethnic Nightmares; Cultural Politics Mires Statue of Borough's Namesake". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  15. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (2017-11-09). "The Statue That Never Was". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  16. ^ Meisel, Louis. "The Biography of Audrey Flack". Audrey Flack. Louis Meisel. Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. Retrieved February 27, 2015.

External links[edit]