Mark Tansey

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Internet / library assignment: Mark Tansey
Mark Tansey is an American painter. His parents were both art historians, so he started to learn about art at his early age. Those experiences had great influences on Tansey’s painting style. Most of his painting is monochromatic and describes daily or historical affairs. Although his painting involved many realistic objects, he is not realistic painter at all. There is always something behind what you have seen in his work. The first Mark Tansey’s artwork I have seen is from the lecture, named “The Innocent Eye Test”. In this painting, “a cow stands in front of Paulus Potter’s The young Bull,1647, now at the Mauritshuis, the Hague, while the human experts wonder if the cow can distinguish artifice from reality.” (Metropolitan Museum) The painting is monochromatic, which is his unique and primary painting style. It seems that Tansey used realism in describing an experiment about whether the bull could tell the reality, but actually it is not realism. The audiences themselves are also in the experiment, and the experts want to see our reactions about the painting, which is what we think the bull will do. The potter’s painting could trick the animals, but Tansey’s painting could trick human beings as well. “What you see is what you see, was the slogan of Frank Stella, and Tansey’s demonstration is that there is more than visual, at least more than optical.” (Danto) “The Innocent Eye Test” is more than about an experiment, it is a proof of the truth that painting is more than what meets the eye. “A short History of Modernist Painting” is one of Tansey’s well known paintings from his early period. In this work, there are seven rows of images which are broken up into fifty-two segments. All of the images came from daily affairs and some of the images are influenced by other artists, including Carl Andre’s laying floor tile and Jasper Johns’ target with arrows. From top to bottom, those seven rows are placed by the...
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