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Ben Schonzeit: Paintings Hardcover – April 1, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The first extensive monograph on this photorealist painter, this book offers an absorbing retrospective portrait of one of the masters of postmodern simulacra. Riley (art, CUNY) provides an insightful biographical narrative, including details about Schonzeit's family and a life-changing incident that fundamentally influenced the painter's perception of the world: the loss of his left eye in a childhood accident. The book is divided into chapters that detail major turning points in Schonzeit's career. A particularly enlightening segment devoted to Photorealism delves into the movement's critical definition, first offered by critic Gregory Battock in 1975. Riley reappraises the creative climate of each decade of Schonzeit's activity and locates his work within it. Valuable commentary from the artist himself about the significance of his formative experiences, iconography, and technique appear throughout the text. The full-color sampling of Schonzeit's work is sumptuous, sometimes nearly palpable. The book ends with a detailed biographical chronology and an extensive list of the artists' exhibitions and collections in which his work is held. Recommended for collections focusing on modern and contemporary art. Savannah Schroll, Smithsonian Institution Libs., Washington, DC
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Schonzeit was a child artistic prodigy, who at six amused himself and onlookers by making 30-foot contour sand drawings at the beach. Later, photography became a passion, and he learned to compose with the camera, projecting the photos on gigantic canvases. Such 1970s photorealist paintings as a six-by-six-foot representation of red bell peppers faithfully render both the photographic image's sharp focal area and the fuzzier areas in front of and behind the focal point. Before, and long after, such works, Schonzeit's paintings bespeak the interest in space and juxtaposition he acquired from a passion for cubism. These works suggest that great cubist innovation, collage. Less assemblage-like is a long series of floral still lifes--understandably his most popular paintings--foregrounding a sharply drawn subject against an arresting backdrop, such as peonies before a Degas painting. Schonzeit's recent works return to collage, still with rigorously realist contents, which now occupy an imaginary space that demands composition on the canvas. Beautifully reproduced herein, they are puzzlingly ravishing. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Charles A. Riley II, PhD is an arts journalist, curator and professor at the City University of New York. He is the author of twenty-eight books on art, architecture and public policy, including The Art of Lincoln Center (Wiley), as well as the essay for the recently published Opera Portraits, an art project that involved photographing singers backstage at major opera houses. He has also written The Jazz Age in France, The Art of Peter Max, Arthur Carter, Ben Schonzeit (all published by Abrams) as well as Aristocracy and the Modern Imagination, The Saints of Modern Art, and Color Codes (all from the University Press of New England), and Sacred Sister (in collaboration with the noted avant-garde theater director Robert Wilson). He is curator-at-large at the Nassau County Museum of Art and has presented exhibitions devoted to Picasso, Surrealism and contemporary art, and has written dozens of exhibition catalogue essays and his articles on art have appeared in several magazines, including Art & Auction, Art & Antiques and Antiques and Fine Art. He is a former reporter for Fortune magazine and former editor-in-chief of WE magazine, and has participated in cultural policy and educational think tanks internationally. A graduate (summa cum laude) of Princeton University, he received his PhD from The Graduate Center of City University of New York. He resides in Manhattan and Cutchogue, New York.

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