Artist George Tooker of Hartland, Vermont, died Sunday at his home. He was 90. The Burlington Free Press noted his passing in a front-page story this morning.
Writer Kevin J. Kelley profiled Tooker for Seven Days in 2009, after a career retrospective revived the painter's reputation. Wrote Kelley, "Hailing Tooker’s 'visionary imagination,' the New York Times called the show 'richly affecting.'"
Here's an excerpt from Kelley's profile:
If ever there was a radical disconnect between artist and subject matter, it can be found in the personality and paintings of George Tooker.
Now 88 and nearly deaf, Tooker lives modestly in a semi-decrepit farmhouse on a craggy hillside in Hartland. He smiles placidly, Buddha-like, while discussing a body of work filled with haunting images of urban angst and alienation. Many of Tooker’s paintings exude menace, but the man himself, clad in a checkered flannel shirt and denim pants, seems the very model of a mellow old Vermonter.
Tooker stopped painting in the last few years, so his meagerly furnished home displays no tools of his trade. It doesn’t contain his paintings, either; those reside in museums, in private collections or in storage with his dealer in New York. Casual visitors could never guess that their gentle host is one of the great American artists of the 20th century.
Image: "The Waiting Room" by George Tooker, 1959.