Cover image for Ben Schonzeit paintings
Ben Schonzeit paintings
Riley, Charles A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : H.N. Abrams, 2002.
Physical Description:
160 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 31 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND237.S4337 A4 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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Ben Schonzeit (born 1942) paints magically evocative pictures. He was a pioneer in the SoHo art scene of 1960s and the most gifted draftsman in the Photorealist movement of the 1970s. He is especially known for the gorgeous still lifes of flowers that seem to be part of a cinematic exploration of the artist's dream world. He has had numerous one-man exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. This is his first monograph.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Schonzeit was a child artistic prodigy, who at six amused himself and onlookers by making 30-foot contour sand drawings at the beach. Later, photography became a passion, and he learned to compose with the camera, projecting the photos on gigantic canvases. Such 1970s photorealist paintings as a six-by-six-foot representation of red bell peppers faithfully render both the photographic image's sharp focal area and the fuzzier areas in front of and behind the focal point. Before, and long after, such works, Schonzeit's paintings bespeak the interest in space and juxtaposition he acquired from a passion for cubism. These works suggest that great cubist innovation, collage. Less assemblage-like is a long series of floral still lifes--understandably his most popular paintings--foregrounding a sharply drawn subject against an arresting backdrop, such as peonies before a Degas painting. Schonzeit's recent works return to collage, still with rigorously realist contents, which now occupy an imaginary space that demands composition on the canvas. Beautifully reproduced herein, they are puzzlingly ravishing. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

The first extensive monograph on this photorealist painter, this book offers an absorbing retrospective portrait of one of the masters of postmodern simulacra. Riley (art, CUNY) provides an insightful biographical narrative, including details about Schonzeit's family and a life-changing incident that fundamentally influenced the painter's perception of the world: the loss of his left eye in a childhood accident. The book is divided into chapters that detail major turning points in Schonzeit's career. A particularly enlightening segment devoted to Photorealism delves into the movement's critical definition, first offered by critic Gregory Battock in 1975. Riley reappraises the creative climate of each decade of Schonzeit's activity and locates his work within it. Valuable commentary from the artist himself about the significance of his formative experiences, iconography, and technique appear throughout the text. The full-color sampling of Schonzeit's work is sumptuous, sometimes nearly palpable. The book ends with a detailed biographical chronology and an extensive list of the artists' exhibitions and collections in which his work is held. Recommended for collections focusing on modern and contemporary art. Savannah Schroll, Smithsonian Institution Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This handsome book on the paintings of Schonzeit, a significant photo-realist of the 1970s, allows readers to see the development of his work to the present. Riley (City Univ. of New York) mentions that the loss of one of the artist's eyes when he was a child forced an early maturity. This book is a competent description of changes in Schonziet's work, but it is not a scholarly appraisal of his transformation into a postmodernist, something not noted by the author. The author discusses the sense of memory and the concrete present in his later work, layered in images and meaning. There was a turning point, with the multifaceted painting and mirror installation titled The Music Room. He transforms the photograph into paint, letting himself return to gestures and techniques that he had abandoned before his photo-realistic days. It is with the diptych "Post Mortem," a response to his parents' death in 1980, that the autobiographical live-ness together with cinematic montage means that this painting becomes overtly personal and paves the way to his black-and-white paintings and the spectacular gold paintings later in his career. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals. M. Kren Kansas State University