Ellen Altfest, ‘Green Plant’, 2004, White Cube

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