Not on View

Working from Nature: The Water Stick

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Working from Nature: The Water Stick

Artist: Irving Petlin (American, 1934 - 2018)
Date: 1976
Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall: 55 x 55 in. (139.7 x 139.7 cm.)
Credit Line: Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Purchased with funds from the Gardner and Florence Call Cowles Foundation, 1977.1
Accession number: 1977.1
Classification: painting
In Collection(s)
Label TextPetlin was born in Chicago in 1934 and received his B.F.A. from the Chicago Art Institute. He studied with Josef Albers at Yale and received an M.F.A. degree. After serving in the army during the late 1950's, he lived in France for several years. He subsequently taught at UCLA for three years and lived in New York from the mid-1960's. A surreal quality pervades most of Petlin's work during the 1960's and 1970's. His paintings tend to eschew the expressionist tendencies of other members associated with Chicago art. Petlin's works retain imagery which is seemingly recognizable although a certain mysterious and ambiguous effect results. His pictures have been described as "dreamscapes" and "elegant tableaux...with introspective themes". In this painting a fence stretches across the bottom edge, separating the viewer from the narrative unfolding before him. A green figure, possibly the artist himself, wields a large brush over a house-like structure and it is the artist's brush which gives life, form, and color to it, for the area to the right of the brush is gray and empty. To the left, other brushes have been placed in a box and a large, undefined animal reclines docilely in the middle of the painting. Liquid yellows, greens and oranges dominate this surrealistic landscape. The artist as creator appears to be the theme and in that sense, the painting seems to be autobiographical. Source: Bulletin, November-December 1977.
SignedPetlin N.Y. 1976 (verso c oil paint)
Exhibition History"Selected Cowles Family Gifts to the Permanent Collection," Des Moines Art Center, July 30 - Sept. 11, 1994

"Director's Choice," Thirty-four works of art purchased with the Director's Discretionary Fund, 1973-1982 - A Gift to the Des Moines Art Center from the Gardner and Florence Call Cowles Foundation, Des Moines Art Center, Sept. 13 - Nov. 13, 1983

"Possibilities for Collectors," Des Moines Art Center, July 6 - Aug. 15, 1976
Published ReferencesDMAC Bulletin, Nov./Dec. 1977, cover ill.

"Director's Choice," Des Moines Art Center, 1983, exh. cat. color ill.

DES MOINES ART CENTER: SELECTED PAINTINGS, SCULPTURES AND WORKS ON PAPER, Des Moines Art Center, 1985, ref. pp.169 & 170, b/w ill. pl.108, p.171
entirely unexpected