Richard Allen George
Richard Allen George was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1935 – spending his adolescent years in Ontario, Canada. In 1960, he received his Bachelors of Fine Art (BFA) in painting while studying at State University in Buffalo, New York; working in photography as an undergraduate and simultaneously serving in the U.S. Army. George moved to New York in 1960 and was enrolled in half-time study at the Art Students League until 1963. From 1963 to 1969 he continued to paint and became part owner of Loewer Studio, Inc. - an art studio specializing in college textbook illustrations. His love of all things artistic led him to Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) where in 1969 he became a graduate student. During his studies at Miami University his talent earned him the title of Assistant Teacher of Sophomore Drawing - receiving his Masters of Fine Art (MFA) painting in 1971. He was rewarded with more than an MFA at Miami University as he dated and soon after married one of the universities Art History Professors. From 1971 until his untimely death in 1990, Richard worked as a self-employed artist and teacher, primarily due to complications from heart and lung issues. He taught drawing, painting, and Art History at the Middletown Fine Arts Center in Middletown, Ohio, and during his lifetime traveled extensively throughout Austria; Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Richard’s career spanned for more than three decades and included an impressive list of exhibitions, awards and critical notice surpassed only by the mystery and mastery of his paintings. Reviews of his work have appeared in Who Was Who in American Art:-1564-1975; Who’s Who in American Art:-1993-1994, The Artists Bluebook, Davenport's Art Reference and numerous art magazines/art newspapers across the country. In 1986-87 he received both an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artists Fellowship and a NEA Regional Visual Arts Fellowship Award for his work.
During his studies Abstract Expressionism was a hot and preferable trend in the art world, but Richard skewed his work more towards realism and surrealism. Richard often stated that “An artist has to decide whether to paint in the mainstream of art history or to paint whatever he wants to paint.” Richard based his paintings on photos he collected with an emphasis on scenes of celebration from past ages. He referred to these scenes as collages - formed from bits of different photos and painted onto large canvases, either in oils or acrylics. George distinctly strayed from the precise rendering of the new realist movement, preferring impressionist techniques. The artist edged shapes with fluorescent lines to make them vibrate - adding dots of bright colors which made light in the image appear to dance and have movement - and of course “the nudes.” What specifically makes Richard’s paintings so intriguing is the ambiguous subject matter within the piece; the incredible detail, bright color palettes and the unforgettable nude figures placed throughout the images. These juxtapositions create the mysterious story telling work of Richard Allen George. In the majority of George’s work, nudes seem to be invisible to their clothed counterparts. Another constant in his work is the desired theme of “celebration,” where diversified social classes of subject people are depicted in random scenes and notable eras throughout time. George’s mix of modern nudes shown amongst Victorian or Edwardian backdrops broke from artistic tradition and was fondly received by collectors worldwide. His love for the surreal guided him to dedicate an entire series of paintings to the influence of surrealist painter Max Ernst. George’s ME Series focuses on a dark world of fantasy and mystery which deviate drastically from his jovial jaunts on the beach or in the park. Many of his beach scenes were influenced by the American painter Edward Potthast.(1857-1927) and show similarities in palette as well as subject matter – with exception of the nudes placed within the piece. In viewing the work of Richard George, it is sometimes difficult to grasp its meaning, yet it is the enigma of each work which forces the viewer to see through the obvious in search of the deeper meaning that exists in George’s world. This attribute brought strength to George’s work and differentiated him from all other painters of the period. Each work is so intrinsically absurd, fascinating and individualistic in nature that viewers often finds themselves either blushing, laughing or extremely intrigued. It is best to take the advice of the artist himself when he stated “Whatever you think it is, that’s exactly what it is.”
Text compiled and written by Penelope Gamel whose main source of information is the artist's widow.