Museum Exhibition Catalogues, Monographs, Artist's Projects, Curatorial Writings and Essays
"My pictures always give me a hard time psychologically, [they] are meant as a kind of "cold shower" for other people, to make them aware of their own feelings, or 'social skin.'" Peter Saul, in a letter to Allan Frumkin, 1966, quoted in Peter Saul: A Retrospective.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Text by Annabelle Ténèze, John Yau.
New York–based painter Peter Saul (born 1934) has consistently challenged the conventions of art, history and politics with his radical, unrefined style. Positioned emphatically outside of the canon of pop art, Saul’s exuberantly grotesque works exhibit an ironic and caustic humor that simultaneously breaks down and celebrates his subjects. Influenced by both French academic painting and MAD magazine, he has become a profound, albeit unconventional, history painter, chronicling the ridiculous and terrible at the top from Reagan to Trump. This catalog covers the artist’s oeuvre since the late 1950s and presents many previously unseen paintings, works on paper and archival materials. Saul was elected to the American Academy of Art and Letters in 2010. His work is part of many major collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Concerning his penchant for difficult or vulgar subject matter, San Francisco-born painter Peter Saul has stated, "Putting crime, war, sex, distortion and low class stuff into the picture is a way to take the decoration out of the picture--literally remove it from the dining room because no one is going to drink orange juice in the same room with it." Saul fuses his MAD Magazine-inspired humor with a Surrealist painting style to create difficult, funny and trenchant works--what Robert Storr, who has penned an essay for this volume, refers to as "sick jokes." Presaging Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley and exerting noticeable influence on artists such as Barry McGee and Ed Templeton, Saul's oeuvre is long overdue for deeper examination and this comprehensive publication provides the first complete overview of his work over the past five decades--from his epic historical canvases to his homage to Thomas Hart Benton, his lampoons of art world sacred cows and works evidencing his particular take on the existential dilemmas of the aging American male. More recent works satirizing current affairs round this volume out.