Men diving off of a pier into the ocean.

George Tooker

American, 1920-2011

Divers, 1952

Egg tempera on gesso panel

12 x 18  inches

Signed upper right



George Tooker’s work often focused on his immediate surroundings in New York—storefronts, architectural details, colored lighting, and everyday encounters with people. In the late 1940s, he also began a small group of beach paintings, which largely draw from childhood memories spent on the south shore of Long Island near Bellport. The present work, Divers, was painted in 1952 and depicts a self portrait of the artist on the ladder. According to Thomas H. Garver: “[Divers] is the last of the beach paintings, which moved steadily away from the Reginald Marsh prototypes before vanishing from Tooker’s oeuvre altogether. It is also the most stylized of the beach paintings. The highlights of sun on the water are schematic rather than illusionistic renderings, stressing form and pattern. The figures plunging from the dock into the water—more flopping than diving—are devoid of fluid motion, yet they epitomize the repetitive study of the single semi-nude figure from different angles that so fascinated Tooker at this time. Notice too the construction of the dock, particularly the right side, in which space is funneled away from the picture plane, a device rarely used by Tooker.” (v.i. George Tooker, p. 74)

Men diving off of a pier into the ocean.