Audrey Flack, a living legend of the contemporary art world, to deliver lecture in Jewish art

Monday, March 4, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.
"Audrey Flack: Issues: Images & Icons"
Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts

"[Audrey Flack] paints and sculpts from conviction, and her relationship to stylistic trends has almost always been tangential. The enduring main currents of her art lie more in subject matter than in style, more in defiance of canons than adherence to them." - Peter Morrin, former director, J.B. Speed Art Museum

Image: Audrey FlackArtist Audrey Flack knows what it's like to be a trailblazer.

Her photorealist paintings launched her into the forefront of a major art movement. Lauded as a pioneer, Flack was the first photorealist painter whose work was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art for its permanent collection. A nationally recognized painter and sculptor, she also enjoys the distinction of having her art grace the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many major museums around the world.

On Monday, March 4, 2013, at 7:30 p.m., Flack will speak about her influential and singular career at Fairfield University when she delivers the Samuel and Bettie Roberts Memorial Lecture in Jewish Art. Free and open to the public, her talk, "Audrey Flack: Issues: Images & Icons," will take place in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. To make a reservation, call the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at 203-254-4000, ext. 2066.

"Art makes life more livable," Ms. Flack said. "I believe in the power of art, it touches the soul." After the lecture, Ms. Flack will sign copies of her book, "On Painting" (published by Abrams). The event is made possible through an endowment from Lawrence Roberts and Suzanne Novik, the son and daughter of Samuel and Bettie Roberts. It is presented by Fairfield University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. The Westport Arts Center is a Community Friend of the evening.  

"With a two-fisted punch, Flack burst onto the world stage as one of America's first generation feminists, ready to go 'mano a mano' with the top male contenders in a bruising art scene," said Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D., professor of Art History at Fairfield. "Today in her early 80s, she remains the top of her game. She's now in the 15th round, and as far as I am concerned, as one of my earliest art heroes - she's still the champ!"

Flack, who lives and works in New York City and Long Island, has taught and lectured extensively both nationally, and internationally.

Among the works she will discuss at the Fairfield lecture are her series of Madonnas (Macarenas) and a watercolor that is one of her earliest works. "The watercolor of [Rabbis Praying] was done when I was very young, early high school days, when I went to temple with my father on Yom Kippur," Flack recalled. "I had to do it from memory, as sketching or photography was not allowed."

"World War II (Vanitas)" is the work she will discuss the most, including the alarming reactions the painting provoked. "I'll be talking about how the painting was reviled when it was first shown, how it seemed to shock people, and how criticized I was, personally, for making it," shared Flack. "Approximately ten years later, the painting was included in an exhibit at the Jewish Museum and praised as a masterpiece. I was given an award by a group of women called Tel Chai Hadassa, all Holocaust survivors. I will discuss in detail their reactions to the painting and what it meant to them, as well as what it meant to me."

Among her public commissions are a Monumental Gateway to the city of Rock Hill, South Carolina, consisting of four twenty-foot high bronze figures on granite pedestals, and Islandia, a nine-foot high bronze sculpture for the New York City technical college in Brooklyn New York.

Pointing to Flack's celebrated Photorealist paintings of the 1970's, her sculptured deities of the 80's and multiple-story high statues from recent years, The New York Times observed, "Breaking the rules has been Ms. Flack's major rule."

She has focused her gaze on an amazing range of subjects: Lady Madonna, an American family, women grieving over President Kennedy's assassination, striking workers, a smiling Marilyn Monroe next to an hourglass, Medusa, jello, herself.

She is indeed an artist who stirs emotions and memories. Dr. Eliasoph, for one, recalls falling for Flack's amazingly rich Kodachrome colors, the shimmering verisimilitude of her mother's lipstick pots, the mind-boggling deceptions of pearls, chintzy perfume bottles, and silvery glitz. "I learned early on that these were not merely superficial feats as visual sleight of hand," Dr. Eliasoph said. "One should not think this is merely cleverly rendered kitsch. It all exquisitely layered allegory within autobiographical riddles entwined with cultural symbolism from Hellenic ideals to Holocaust ghosts."

Flack holds a graduate degree and an honorary doctorate from Cooper Union in New York City, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Yale University. She attended New York University's Institute of Fine Arts where she studied the history of art. 
She was awarded the St. Gaudens Medal from Cooper Union, and the honorary Albert Dome professorship from the University of Bridgeport. She is an honorary professor at George Washington University, and is currently a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726,

Posted on February 12, 2013

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