Tempera on canvas mounted to panel
Unframed: 54.5 x 29.2 x 0.7 cm (21 7/16 x 11 1/2 x 1/4 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2012.31
French favored a form of tempera painting in which egg yolk is a primary ingredient.
French was well regarded during the 1940s and ’50s as one of the most accomplished and fascinating magic realist painters. A still understudied group of artists, the magic realists revived painstaking old master techniques to make convincing their enigmatic images that address a wide range of personal and social concerns. Part of a series of works French made to chronicle the human condition, Evasion symbolizes an individual’s attempt to deny the physical self. As such, the painting manifests tensions regarding sexual mores in mid 20th-century America. While it is reductive to attribute French’s iconographic interest in Evasion solely to his bisexuality, the fact remains that French was one of the first American artists whose same-sex desires were recognized and acknowledged by contemporaries who viewed his work.
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