Most well-known for his captivating, realist paintings, Alan Magee started his career as an illustrator in New York City in the 1970s. His expertly rendered, often surreal images attracted myriad clients including Time, Playboy, New York Magazine and publishing giant, Simon & Schuster. The hustle of a freelancing illustrator, however, grew tiring, and Magee relocated to Maine as a reprieve from the non-stop bustle.
Born in Newton, Pennsylvania in 1947, the artist remembers seeing the northeastern-most U.S. state on a map as child and being immediately drawn to it. In 1976 he answered the call and moved to Camden with his wife, and high-school sweetheart, Monika. A friend, the harpist Joan Eidman, introduced him to the rocky shores of Pemaquid Point, and Magee’s artistic trajectory was forever changed. Maine—and Pemaquid Point in particular—became an almost spiritual place for the artist. Deeply inspired by the ancient, softly shaped stones, Magee embarked on a series of paintings that would become some of his most recognizable work. The beauty of his stunningly precise, realist paintings however, is tempered with a contemplative commentary on war, greed and cruelty and Magee’s works are often reflective of his humanist and activist convictions. The preciseness of his paintings and stark compositions demand attention, forcing the viewer to consider beauty in both darkness and in light.
Throughout his decades-long career, Magee has exhibited widely beginning with his first solo show at Staempfli Gallery in 1980. Since then, his work has been featured in countless exhibitions around the world and is held numerous private collections and institutions including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the Columbus Museum of Art. Magee has received awards for his painting from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design, and most recently, his life and work is the subject of a 2022 documentary Alan Magee: art is not a solace. Alan Magee is represented in New York by Forum Gallery where his exhibition is presently on view through November 5, 2022.
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