George Tooker

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George Tooker
George Tooker receiving the National Medal of Arts from George W. Bush
George Tooker (left) receiving the National Medal of Arts from George W. Bush in 2007
Born (1920-08-05)August 5, 1920
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died March 27, 2011(2011-03-27) (aged 90)
Hartland, Vermont, U.S.
Nationality American
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.[1]


Tooker was raised by his father, George Clair Tooker, a U.S. citizen of Anglo-French descent, and his mother, Angela Montejo Roura, who was of English and Spanish-Cuban descent, in Brooklyn Heights and Bellport, New York, along with his sister, Mary Fancher Tooker. He 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.[2] Tooker's long-time partner, William R. Christopher, died in 1973.[3] Raised in a religious Episcopalian family, he later converted to Roman Catholicism.[2]


Tooker died on March 27, 2011 due to kidney failure.[4]


Woman with Oranges (1977) by George Tooker

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.[1] 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.[2]

Working with the then-revitalized tradition of egg tempera, Tooker addressed issues of modern-day alienation with a subtle sense of eeriness. His work often portrayed 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.[1] "Waiting Room" (1957; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.) reveals him as a Social Realism painter.[5]

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.[1]

DC Moore Gallery represents the Estate of George Tooker. The first exhibition of his works at the gallery was in April 2007[6]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "GEORGE TOOKER: Painter, Hartland, VT". 2007 National Medal of Arts: Press Release. National Endowment for the Arts: News Room. November 14, 2007. Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c William Grimes (March 29, 2011). "George Tooker, Painter Capturing Modern Anxieties, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2013. 
  3. ^ "George Tooker obituary". Retrieved September 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ Smee, Sebastian (29 March 2011). "George Tooker, 1920-2011". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "George Tooker (1920-2011) - "Waiting Room", 1957". Retrieved September 10, 2011. 

External links[edit]