Ellen Altfest, ‘Gourds’, 2006-2007, Kunstforeningen GL STRAND

About Ellen Altfest

With exquisite attention to the minutest details, Ellen Altfest produces naturalistic paintings that transform humble or intimate subjects—like houseplants, gourds, or a man’s underarm—into evocative, psychologically loaded objects that almost exceed realism. Altfest paints from life in every sense, faithfully recording the crevices on the surface of a gourd or each pore and every hair covering a man’s thigh. This abundance of detail, combined with Altfest’s tight framing, is at once seductive and excruciating: “I like making compositions that are awkward and go against what might be considered pleasing,” she says.

American, b. 1970, New York, United States, based in New York, United States