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William Bailey
(1930-)

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"It took time - too much time - for the magnitude of Diebenkorn's achievement to be fully recognized in New York. For entirely figurative artists, of course, it was harder still. They were reluctantly granted a niche at the side of the "mainstream," but not much more. Few people in the 1970s would have taken the view that, for all the difficulty of comparing apples and oranges, the calm and timelessly ordered still-lives of William Bailey were at least as full of pictorial intelligence and visual subtlety as anything in color-field painting, although it was obvious that they belonged to a different order of pictorial ambition from that of most American realism at the time, which tended to be anecdotal and nostalgic. There was nothing nostalgic or narrative about Bailey's work. Its calm arrays of pots, jugs, eggs, and bowls make up an ideal form-world, Platonic in its removal from "the itch of desire." Nothing spills out, thrusts forward, or wants to be touched or possessed - the traditional solicitations of still-life painting, most materialistic of arts. They are as removed from touch (and as grandly articulate in their scale) as the façade of a fine quattrocento building, seen from the other side of the piazza: it is no accident that Bailey should have had a profound attraction to Italy, or that he spent summers in Monterchi, where Piero della Francesca's Madonna del Parto presides in the local cemetery. They are less domestic and tactile than Chardin and more precise (and, crucially, less modest) than Morandi. Distance envelops them; they are, as his friend the poet Mark Strand put it, "realizations of an idea," in which all the groping toward the idea has been submerged - an extreme opposite to the American taste for works of art which bear the signs of their struggle, unedited, in their final form."

- From Robert Hughes, "American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America"

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William Bailey Images

 
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1971 Still Life with Eggs, Bowl and Vase
1972 Table with Ochre Wall
1974 Migianella Still Life with Pitcher
1980 Still Life Citta di Castello
1985 Still Life Hotel Raphael
1990 Strada Bianca




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