If you have the opportunity to «meet» a DeAndrea artwork, you will never forget it!
Born in 1941 in Denver, Colorado, John DeAndrea is an artist whose international reputation is matched only by its rarity. While currently exhibited at MET Breuer in New York and at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, the Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois Gallery is proud to present his first solo exhibition in Paris in almost thirty years.
(…) Before he exhibited in New York, De Andrea was very much on his own. During his studies – at the University of Colorado, Boulder then Albuquerque (New Mexico) – he was told that figuration was dead.
“I felt quite alone, isolated in Colorado. I felt like a slightly crazy adventurer. I had no support, nothing,” he told Pollock. True, he knew the work of George Segal, who used the same method of live casting, albeit with very different results, but he had yet to see the work of Duane Hanson: “When I saw Hanson’s stuff, I thought, ‘My God, there’s someone out there who thinks the way I do!’ […] The first time I saw him, it was as if I was meeting someone very close.” (…) “Duane Hanson does what he calls ‘blood and guts,’ whereas my work is more classical.” (…) De Andrea’s models are rather young, handsome and muscular. Full of life. And that’s what this is about (…) “How ‘real’ do you want your figures to be?” he answered: “I want them to breathe.” *
Regarded as one of the most important members of the American Hyperrealist movement that developed in the early 1970s alongside Duane Hanson, Chuck Close or Richard Estes, DeAndrea needs his singularity by his look on the History of Art and his position as a painter as well as a sculptor. Indeed, if each work requires about a thou- sand hours of production, it is because after the first step of molding and sculpting, there follows a thorough process of careful illumination with oil paint, superimposing hundreds of layers to create the illusion of life and esh, without any possibility of «camouflage», the figures being, in the majority of cases, in the nude.
To accentuate this paradigm, DeAndrea strives to reproduce the most classic poses and themes in Art History, multiplying references from Antiquity (from the dying Galatea to Pygmalion and Greek sculpture of the fth century B.C.), to Renaissance (Venus of Titian or Velasquez) and up to French painting of the XIXth century (from Manet to Courbet and Cabanel!)
But he is also resolutely contemporary, not hesitating to draw his iconography from current news, as is the case in his work American Icon, or to depict with rawness yet without vulgarity some anatomical parts habitually cleverly concealed or retracted.
For physical and technical reasons, John DeAndrea’s production, it has been said, is very limited. His entire oeuvre is estimated at about 350 sculptures, most of which are already present in museums and private collections. But on the occasion of this latest exhibition, the artist has decided to show, besides a dozen sculptures, a facet totally ignored of his work and yet present from the very beginning, the casts of heads and busts that he has always kept in his studio, a trace of the works’ memory, raw and captivating, impassive faces with hollow eyes but with rare intensity: The Faces of Fifty Years.
* Excerpts from Harry Bellet’s text « Aphrodite’s Child» published in the exhibition catalog.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)