Mark Tansey
American artist



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Mark Tansey
American artist
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Mark Tansey was that cute little boy who knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up and, unlike with my dreams of becoming a Saint Bernard dog breeder, actually followed through.

Mark Tansey’s mother birthed him into a family of artists in 1949 in San Jose, California. And as a part of his artsy family, he also invested most of his time in art things. As a teen he attended Saturday art classes at the San Francisco Art Institute and frequented local art museums. He went to Art Center College of design in LA for three years, Hunter College for four and was an assistant at San Jose State University Gallery. By then Tansey decided that he loved history paintings best and developed his own style.

This style is very cool but also very dated. He starts “by laying down a layer of monochrome pigment upon the canvas surface; its texture allows for it to be easily shaped,” but it also dries in six hours so he had to finish his work before then. It’s a like the movie Saw but artistic and no one dies. He gets to every part of the work by mapping out one small section at a time like a fresco painter, which is where his affinity for history painting comes in.

What sets him apart from the fresco painters of yore though is his deep love of visual puns and René Magritte. For instance, Tansey’s Innocent Eye Test depicts a cow looking at a painting of a cow, which reference’s Magritte’s confrontation of semiotics in the painting, The Treachery of Images. The target question of Tansey’s work is whether or not the cow was mooo-ved by the work. (Ouch, glad we got that out of the way).

Overall, Tansey's referential history paintings should be approached with an eye for word play.




  1. "Mark Tansey - 15 Artworks, Bio & Shows On Artsy." Web. 27 Oct. 2017.
  2. Mark Tansey At Gagosian." Web. 27 Oct. 2017.
  3. "Mark Tansey Biography – Mark Tansey On Artnet." Web. 27 Oct. 2017.
  4. "Mark Tansey." Widewalls. Web. 27 Oct. 2017.
  5. Raynor, Vivien. "ART: MARK TANSEY IN FIRST SOLO SHOW." N.p., 1982. Web. 27 Oct. 2017.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Mark Tansey

Mark Tansey (born 1949, San Jose, California) is an American painter.


Tansey had an early introduction to art. These early childhood experiences had a profound effect on Tansey's painting style from the inception of his career as an artist. Many of Tansey's paintings are monochromatic and seem old-fashioned. His method involves laying down a layer of monochrome pigment on canvas that can be altered easily only before it dries. This leaves Tansey only about a six-hour window in which to complete his alterations. As such, he works in a style similar to fresco painters, painting in segments that he can finish in this short time frame. Tansey's choice of color and tone lends a specific feeling to each painting.

Tansey lives in a two-story studio in downtown New York City and works there from late afternoon throughout the night almost every day. The first floor of his studio is reserved for final paintings only, while the second floor is where he creates all of the preparatory sketches and variations that inspire his completed works. He derives his inspiration from photographic reproductions and magazine clippings, and works in stages of small sketches and drawings until he is prepared for the final painting.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Mark Tansey.