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December 01, 2022

Acquisition: Gift of Graham Nickson’s Painting “Yellow Rise: Sun Watcher”

Graham Nickson, "Yellow Rise: Sun Watcher"

Graham Nickson
Yellow Rise: Sun Watcher, 2017
oil on linen
overall: 203.2 x 152.4 cm (80 x 60 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Gift of Daniel L. Satterwhite and Audrey Shachnow
2022.52.1

Graham Nickson (British, b. 1946) makes paintings and drawings that place the human form in the landscape. His art combines close observation with expressive color; compositional geometry with strong illusion; and mysterious narrative with monumental calm. Yellow Rise: Sun Watcher (2017), a gift from Daniel L. Satterwhite and Audrey Shachnow, joins two other paintings and a drawing by the artist already in the collection.

In Yellow Rise: Sun Watcher, a female model faces a glowing sunrise, holding open the hood of her windbreaker as if to absorb the solar energy. Observed from behind her, the sun makes its way through and around the edges of her nearly translucent jacket. A horizon line is underscored by the space between the two equal panels of the support. The theme of looking into a blazing sun has resonance in the paintings of J. M. W. Turner and Vincent van Gogh, both sources of inspiration for Nickson.

Born in Knowle Green, Lancashire, England, Nickson studied at Camberwell School (BA 1969), the Royal College of Art (MA, 1972), and the British School in Rome (Prix de Rome, 1972–1974). He moved to New York City in 1976 and since 1988 has served as dean of the New York Studio School, where he is also a faculty member. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988 and in 2000 a traveling retrospective was organized by the Frye Art Museum, Seattle.

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