Philip Pearlstein Death, Obituary – Philip Pearlstein has sadly passed away unexpectedly with loved ones, family and the entire community left heartbroken and in grievance, according to an online publication. From the late 1950s onward, Pearlstein, a student of Andy Warhol’s who also went against the grain of the predominate Abstract Expressionist style of the period, stayed devoted to representation in his work. Philip Pearlstein, the artist whose realistic and naked portraits gave fresh life to figurative painting in the middle of the emergence of non-representational abstraction, passed away on December 17th at the age of 98.
His portraits were known for their realism and their nakedness. His longtime gallerist in New York, Betty Cuningham, has since verified that he had passed away. Pearlstein was born on May 24, 1924, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a town that was hard-struck by the Great Depression. During this time, his father was a vendor of eggs and poultry, and the city as a whole was struggling. In his senior year of high school, Pearlstein won two national painting competitions that were hosted by the publisher Scholastic. Both of his winning paintings, one of which depicted a merry-go-round and the other of which depicted a barbershop and were painted in a style that was similar to American realism, were published in Life magazine.
Even though he was recruited into the military in 1943, he continued his education at what was then known as the Carnegie Institute of Technology and is now known as Carnegie Mellon University. His company was stationed in Italy and given the responsibility of painting road signs and drawing instruction manuals. Pearlstein was able to take advantage of this circumstance by traveling to the country’s major cities and gaining first-hand exposure to the work of Renaissance masters. In 1946, he went back to the United States and re-enrolled at Carnegie Mellon, which is where he met and became friends with Andy Warhol, another student there.
He and Andy Warhol traveled to New York City together in 1949, and they shared an apartment there until Pearlstein married Dorothy Cantor, who was also a student at Carnegie Mellon University, the following year. Cantor passed away in 2018, but Pearlstein and Cantor did not divorce during his lifetime. Pearlstein, who was by this time a professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, gained a renewed interest in painting the figure in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This was in part due to a series of figure drawing sessions held in the home of artist and Pratt colleague Mercedes Matter. Pearlstein had been a student of Matter’s for many years.
During these figure sketching sessions, which would typically run for up to six hours, Matter would urge the models to strike sprawling, casual positions while draping Indian sarees over mounds of cushions. Pearlstein’s tendency for strewing the figures about his canvases in informal poses and unorthodox compositions, which he labeled “hard realism,” was ignited as a result of this. Even though the drawing group did not continue to function primarily out of Matter’s house, it kept meeting for more than a decade, and many of the drawings that were done in this group became the reference point for Pearlstein’s paintings throughout the years.