George Tooker

George Tooker, “Voice”, Lithograph on Rives Gray Paper, 1977, 11 x 9 ¾ Inches, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

The “Voice”  by George Tooker shows two men on either side of a wall or door. While the viewer is privy to their close proximity to one another they seem unsure about one another’s existence. The man on the left has placed his head against the barrier as if listening for movement or communication. On the right, a second man presses his open mouth to the other side but seems silent and frozen in fear. Tooker cropped the image closely so that we focus on the relationship between the two men as they breath quietly and await contact. A delicate tension is established between the two figures as they wait.

This focus on the futility of human communication, one of Tooker’s most powerful commentaries, was originally done by him in a series of paintings entitled “Voice I” (painted in 1963, now in a private collection) and “Voice II” (done in egg tempera in 1972 and now in the National Academy Museum and School).

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