Jonathan Santlofer: The Man Ray Series

by Gail Stavitsky

Since the early 1990s, Jonathan Santlofer has reinvented traditional conceptions of the human body through his constructed and drawn portraits of artists and art world figures. Having begun his career in the 1970s as a painter of eccentrically shaped, multi-paneled, abstract canvases, Santlofer turned to the subject of portraiture at a pivotal moment in his life and career. In 1989, Santlofer lost a significant group of paintings which were consumed by a fire during an exhibition at a Chicago gallery. His subsequent term as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome in 1990-1991 was a life-saving experience that reaffirmed his abiding interests in the history, practice, and meaning of art. Making drawings and prints of the art of the Italian old masters he was seeing, Santlofer started, in his words, “cutting them up and making collages, just to get a feel for imagery which ultimately led to using portraiture in my work.”[i]

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