Joe Zucker

(b. 1941)

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(1941– )

American painter, born in Chicago. He was associated with New Image Painting and included in the 1978 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition which identified the trend. His early paintings were made from dyed cotton fabric and derived from weaving patterns. In 1971 he began painting by building up the image from paint-soaked cotton balls to produce colourful cartoon-like images. Some of these depicted plantation life and so the painting described its origins, essentially a form of process art. Zucker has been drawn to themes from myth and history. Merlin's Lab (1977, Whitney Museum, New York) shows the time-travelling wizard surrounded by the instruments of alchemy, including an alligator, which Zucker commented ‘offers a lot of tactile opportunities for a painter’. In the 1980s cotton was replaced by aluminium in a series of paintings inspired by the career of Juan Ponce de León, a 16th-century Spanish explorer who discovered Florida but spent much of his life in a futile search for the Fountain of Youth. The critic Michael Brenson has located Zucker's work in the American tradition of Mark Twain in his use of ‘everyday, down-home language to narrate adventures that are filled with humour, speculation and satire’ (The New York Times, 30 August 1985).

Further Reading

R. Marshall, New Image Painting (1978)

Subjects: Art.

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