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Art by Alan Magee

Alan Magee

Alan Magee studied at the Tyler School of Art and the Philadelphia College of Art. He practiced editorial and book illustration for more than a decade before focusing on the body of work for which he is critically acclaimed: his acrylic on panel paintings of found objects. Pay attention. This is the guiding principle of Alan Magee’s art. As a realist, Magee’s images may at first seem simply a re-presentation of the familiar. However, what Magee highlights in his careful selection of such recognizable subject matter is the act of looking itself. He reminds us that we are all viewers and that every act of seeing is a dynamic process. A realist not of the New Realist school, nor really of any other school, for that matter, Alan Magee is an artist whose work is stark and innocent, technically astonishing, miraculously perceptive, and ever strange in its conjunctions. Witty, subtle, and informed, shaped by art history and prodded by Surrealism, his work pulls and pushes the mind beyond the mere acknowledgement of his dexterity and precision. Hailed as one of America's foremost representative painters, Alan Magee has also created a number of highly acclaimed works spanning a broad range of media and styles. Among Magee's well known early works are a number of paintings of beach stones, discovered on the shores of New England. These meticulously crafted paintings not only reflect his fascination with texture and surfaces, but also a larger thematic interest in mutability and the passage of time. "I like to take a neglected object and draw it with great care," Magee writes. Alan Magee, born in 1947 in Newtown, Pennsylvania, attended art school in Philadelphia and, in 1969, began working as an editorial and book illustrator in New York. Among his regular clients were Time, Atlantic, Playboy, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Bantam, Ballantine, and Simon & Schuster Books. During the 1970s Magee produced paintings for the covers of books by Graham Greene, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, John Irving, Yukio Mishima, Stanley Elkin, John Neihardt, Ken Kesey, Agatha Christie, and many others. His illustrations received numerous awards including a National Book Award in 1982, Awards of Excellence from the Society of Illustrators and Communication Arts magazine, Playboy magazine’s Annual Editorial Award, and awards from the Art Directors Clubs of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. In the late 1970s Magee began to concentrate on his personal paintings and in 1980 had his first solo exhibition at Staempfli Gallery in New York. Since that time, he has had annual one-person shows throughout the United States and Europe. In 1991 a ten-year retrospective, Alan Magee 1981-1991, traveled to four US museums. Archive, an exhibition of Magee’s black and white monotypes opened at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall in November, 2000 and later traveled to the Portland Museum of Art, the University of New Hampshire at Durham, and the New England College Art Gallery at Henniker New Hampshire. An Alan Magee Retrospective exhibition opened at the James A. Michener Art Museum in 2003; the Farnsworth Art Museum, 2004; the Museum of Texas Tech University, 2004; and the Frye Art Museum, 2005. Books of Alan Magee’s paintings include, Stones and Other Works, published by Harry N. Abrams in 1986, Alan Magee 1981-1991, published by the Farnsworth Art Museum in 1991, and Archive, Alan Magee Monotypes, published by Darkwood Press and Spectrum Concerts Berlin in 2000. Alan Magee: Paintings, Sculpture, Graphics, a major book of the artist’s work, was released October, 2003. Magee has received awards for his painting from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design. Several television documentaries have been made about his work including the Maine PBS production, Alan Magee, Visions of Darkness and Light, and Alan Magee, Maine Master by the Union of Maine Visual Artists. He has been interviewed on Voice of America, Monitor Radio (Christian Science Monitor) in NY, WHYY in Philadelphia, and Pacifica Radio in San Francisco. A profile of the artist appeared in the March/April 2001 issue (#332) of Graphis. Magee’s works can be seen in many public collections including The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, The Art Institute of Chicago, The National Portrait Gallery, the Portland Museum of Art, the Farnsworth Art Museum, Arkansas Art Center, Arizona State University Art Museum, The Newark Art Museum, and the Columbus Museum of Art. His work is included in the private collections of Mobil Oil, the Atlantic Richfield Co., Lucasfilm Inc., Cargill Corporation, Continental Grain, the Bank of Japan, the Union Trust Bank, The Janss Collection, and the collections of Billy Wilder, Henry Fonda, Chermayeff & Geissmar, Arnold Newman, Johnny Carson, Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer, Nicholas Cage, Morley Safer, Burton and Deedee McMurtry, and the Richard and Jalane Davidson Collection of American Realist Drawings, among others.

Be sure to check out the official Alan Magee web site.

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