Philip Pearlstein, ‘OLGA HIRSHHORN IS 90’, 2010, Alpha 137 Gallery
Philip Pearlstein, ‘OLGA HIRSHHORN IS 90’, 2010, Alpha 137 Gallery
Philip Pearlstein, ‘OLGA HIRSHHORN IS 90’, 2010, Alpha 137 Gallery
Philip Pearlstein, ‘OLGA HIRSHHORN IS 90’, 2010, Alpha 137 Gallery

This terrific lithograph on elegant Aquarelle Arches paper with deckled edges was created by legendary realist painter Philip Pearlstein on the occasion of Olga Hirshhorn's 90th birthday. Olga Hirshhorn, art collector and philanthropist and wife of Joseph Hirshhorn, founder of the Hirshhorn Museum. The work was created in 2010 - when Pearlstein was 85 years young himself. It depicts Olga Hirshhorn holding Man Ray's "Indestructibel Object" in her hand. Pearlstein said it was only the second time he had ever worked from a photograph. An article in Artforum described the shindig in which each of the 185 guests was presented as a gift with Philip Pearlstein's portrait of Hirshhorn. Here's an excerpt: ..."Though he was not able to appear at the party personally, Bill Clinton addressed Hirshhorn via video and, in his own inimitable fashion, spoke best to her charms. Recalling the times they had spent together at Martha’s Vineyard, Clinton said, “I remember when we were at our first dinner together, and I asked to sit next to you.” He chuckled. “And, well, it was the beginning of quite a friendship.” Another appreciative gesture, a portrait by Philip Pearlstein, shows an unrefined likeness of Hirshhorn holding Man Ray’s Indestructible Object (and bears the stiff inscription OLGA HIRSHHORN IS 90); it was commissioned by Levy, an old friend of Hirshhorn’s. (Levy’s gift inspired some tittering from the crowd: In 1995, Hirshhorn surprised insiders by announcing that she would donate all the art she collected after her husband Joe Hirshhorn’s death—some seven hundred American and European works, worth, at the time, $10 million—to the Corcoran, rather than to her husband’s namesake institution.) “We were gossiping like hell,” Levy said, describing a session in advance of the party during which he and Pearlstein signed and numbered (respectively) 185 prints of the portrait—one party favor for every guest. Pearlstein taught at Pratt with Levy’s father. For his part, Pearlstein noted that the portrait was only the second time he had ever worked from a photograph, and he said that he had a tough time deciding what to make: “I couldn’t think of anything quirky.” Below is the link to the full article:

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Signature: Pencil signed, dated and numbered on the recto (front)

Originally presented as a gift to the VIP attendees of Olga Hirshhorn's 90th birthday bash in D.C.

About Philip Pearlstein

Known for his paintings of nudes with almost clinical objectivity, Philip Pearlstein has been scrutinizing the body since the early 1960s, painting it as it is and avoiding idealization. Attuned to art history, Pearlstein is as interested in pattern and composition as he is in the body itself. He creates still life-like, visually complex arrangements by entangling his models with pieces of furniture, colorful rugs and blankets, and an assortment of objects, like a decoy swan or a whirligig. His model of 18 years, Desiree Avarez wrote: “He is fascinated with the beauty of form, and by beauty I mean power. This is a man studying structure and the math of its glamour as deeply as the ancient philosophers. As if understanding the essence of the endoskeleton might uncover the sublime.”

American, b. 1924, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York

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Hill Gallery at The Armory Show 2013