Mark Tansey, Reverb, 2017, oil on canvas, 84 × 60 inches unframed (213.4 × 152.4 cm) © Mark Tansey. Photo by Rob McKeever.
The dense imagery that permeates Mark Tansey's canvases can be sourced to a trove of visual material that the artist has collected over the years. This includes his own photographs, as well as clippings from magazines, journals and newspapers. Tansey begins his creative process by stretching, rotating or cropping forms, combining images, and photocopying them over and over again until he produces a collage that can serve as a preliminary study for his paintings.
Tansey's work typifies the complexity of our age, when certainty seems more elusive than ever. In his paintings, it is difficult to determine whether east is west, up is down, left is right, or good is evil. The literal is the figurative, and the figurative is literal. Tansey embraces this ambiguity and invites the viewer to participate in a visual and metaphorical adventure.
Mark Tansey was born in 1949 in San Jose, California. He received his B.A. in 1972 from the Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles. He completed his graduate studies in painting from 1975 to 1978 at Hunter College, New York. Tansey’s work has been the subject of numerous solo museum exhibitions, including “Paintings,” Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (1984); “Image World: Art and Media Culture,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1989); Kunsthalle Museum, Basel (1990); “Art and Source (curated by Patterson Sims),” Seattle Art Museum, Washington (1990, traveled to Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; List Visual Art Center, MIT, Massachusetts; and Modern Art Museum of Fort Wort, Texas, through 1991); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California (1993, traveled to Milwaukee Museum of Art, Wisconsin; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal); “Landscape as Metaphor,” Denver Art Museum, Colorado (1994, traveled to Columbus Art Museum, Ohio); “Triumph of the New York School,” Kunstverein, Düsseldorf (1995); Fisher Landau Center for Art, New York (2005); and Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Germany (2005, traveled to Württembergischer Kunstverein, Germany). Collections include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles; and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Tansey currently lives and works in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and New York City.