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Peter Cain

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Essays by Beau Rutland, Richard Meyer, and Collier Schorr

This is the first comprehensive monograph on Peter Cain, who first achieved fame in the early-1990s for his paintings of distorted automobiles. Rendered with precision, their gleaming surfaces intensified the seductiveness of the advertisements on which they were based, leading one critic at the time to call them “literal and figurative icons of autoeroticism.”

In 1995, in a departure from the car paintings, Cain began a new series of paintings. Each composition — part figure study, part landscape — depicts his boyfriend Sean’s reclining head and shoulders on a beach. These new works signaled, in the words of critic Peter Schjeldahl, “the creation of a new high style able intelligently to capture intimate nuances of contemporary Eros on a public scale.”

The following year Cain took up another new subject: gas stations and strip malls around Los Angeles. Though rendered with the same attention to detail, these paintings omit all typography from the retail landscape, an abstracting device similar to his mutated automobiles. In January 1997, less than a month before their first exhibition, the artist died tragically from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was thirty-seven years old.

Illustrated with over eighty full-color plates, this book features paintings, drawings, and photographs made between 1987 and 1997. Beau Rutland’s essay provides a comprehensive overview of Cain’s work and its unique place in the 1980s–90s New York art world, while Collier Schorr offers a meditation on desire and power inspired by Cain’s car paintings. Richard Meyer’s essay examines the Sean paintings, which suspend their subject “between intimacy and abstraction.” Accompanying these essays are source images, preparatory collages, and historical photos of the artist and his studio, all published here for the first time.

Clothbound with dust jacket
164 pages
133 images
10 x 9 3/4 inches; 26 x 25 cm

ISBN 978-1-944929-03-9

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