Past Exhibitions

Transient Beauty: Photographs by Audrey Flack

Saturday, April 11, 2015 - Sunday, September 27, 2015

Transient Beauty: Photographs by Audrey Flack is culled from the museum’s permanent collection and offers a first time look at a series of dye transfer photographs created in 1983 by New York-based artist Audrey Flack (American, born 1931). A pioneer of the Photorealism art movement, Flack created these works, often as studies for her large scale paintings, with almost microscopic detail while capturing the optical realism one would see if looking through a camera lens.

Flack used the dye transfer printing process, which is composed with color plates, each one holding areas of cyan, magenta, or yellow respectively. The four plates, printed one after the other, produce a full-color image. The process gave her the ability to instill both delicate subtleties and deep, rich nuances of color in her work. Along with a master printer, she could finely control the saturation of each color to create her lush compositions. Her acutely focused interest on surface detail is tempered by her symbolic subject matter depicted in the eleven works on view. Flack explored the notion of vanitas­ – a meditation on the transient nature of life – and psychological portraiture by creating elaborate still life tableaus with props that she or her family owned as well as collected from antique shops and other sources. According to Flack, some of the photographs served as studies for her monumentally scaled paintings such as Queen which she created as a tender homage to her mother with several clues to discover, including an oval locket holding their portraits and a keychain inscribed with the letter “F.” Other works were autonomous, such as Time to Save, where the artist cleverly inserts a clock bank playing on the pun “to save and time.” Her use of her own personal effects creates an unusual self-portrait in Rolls Royce Lady which portrays her own jewelry, which Flack said she created for “pure visual pleasure.” Unique to her art making, Flack photographed her compositions at a tilted angle, creating a very shallow picture plane while forcing her assemblages up close in the foreground. In totality, through her process and imagery, Audrey Flack’s highly sensitive photographs appeal to our subconscious mind by depicting complex yet universal themes of family, wealth, desire, lust, hunger, and mortality.

Audrey Flack’s paintings, photographs and sculptures have received international attention throughout her career. In addition to the Taubman Museum of Art, her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Among Flack’s public commissions is her Monumental Gateway to the city of Rock Hill, South Carolina, consisting of four twenty-foot high bronze figures on granite pedestals and her study for one of the bronze figures is in the Taubman Museum’s collection titled, Head of Civitas. She holds a graduate degree and honorary doctorate from Cooper Union in New York City, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Yale University. She was awarded the St. Gaudens Medal from Cooper Union, and the honorary Albert Dome professorship from Bridgeport University. Audrey Flack lives and works in New York City and Long Island.

Transient Beauty: Photographs by Audrey Flack is curated by Amy G. Moorefield, Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Collections with assistance by Eva Thornton, Curatorial Coordinator, Taubman Museum of Art. Sponsored in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, this exhibition will be on display April 11­– September 27, 2015 in the David R. and Susan S. Goode Gallery.



(Left to right, top to bottom)

Queen (detail), 1983, Dye transfer photograph, 29 1/8" x 27 5/8”, Gift of the Artist, 1996.209

Rolls Royce Lady (detail), 1983, Dye transfer photograph, 29 1/8" x 27 5/8”, Gift of the Artist, 1996.212

Leonardo's Lady (detail), 1983, Dye transfer photograph, 28 1/2" x 26 13/16”, Gift of the Artist, 1996.207