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Janet Alling

In 1964, Janet Alling (b.1939, New York) studied among a legendary generation of artists, including Chuck Close, Jennifer Bartlett, Richard Serra, Nancy Graves, Janet Fish, Rackstraw Downs, and Brice Marden. They turned contemporary art making into a revolution of material, scale, subject, and perception. In that vein, Alling focused her gaze on capturing and magnifying the natural world to redefine a category of painting long regarded as decorative and conventional.


After graduating from Yale, Alling moved to New York City and had her debut show in 1972 at 55 Mercer, a Co-Op space in SoHo. In his New York Times review of the exhibition, Peter Schjeldahl placed her among a group of artists who were “advancing realist painting in an important way. Almost brutal in its scale manipulations and its assertions of detail, but full of acridity and sweetness of personality, work like Alling’s reintroduces us to the visible world with a bang.”


Five decades later, Alling continues to investigate the essence and power of flora and fauna through observation and honed technique. With an unconventionally modern approach, Janet animates large scale leaves and petals, drawn from life or photographs, and compiles imagined flower gatherings. Alling credits Monet’s spirit and Malevich’s formalism, to classical music, as inspirations. She places her own type of realism in an American tradition that harkens back to Thomas Eakins: an “ambiguity of seeing–that it discloses both what’s actual and what’s possible–is pushed to extremes" in her work. Not intent on a photorealist effect, Janet imbues her subjects with their forever changing nature, making them equal parts character studies and vibrant happenings.

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