Mark Tansey’s 1987 oil painting, “The Bricoleur’s Daughter,” features a young girl exploring a worktable filled with tools and bric-a-brac. The painting challenges the mythology of art history and criticism by critiquing the role of representation in modern art. Tansey’s paintings are characterized by their monochromatic style and photographic precision, which he achieved through a subtractive painting process involving heavily gessoed grounds and layering of paint.
The preparatory works and source materials for “The Bricoleur’s Daughter” include photographs and news clippings, which offer insight into the artist’s working and thought processes. The painting is part of the Emily Fisher Landau collection in New York.
Tansey’s approach to art challenges conventional ideas about representation and interpretation. His use of monochromatic tones highlights the importance of formal characteristics over subject matter. Additionally, his subtractive painting process reinforces this idea as it involves removing layers rather than adding them to build up images.
“The Bricoleur’s Daughter” serves as an example of Tansey’s unique artistic style that critiques traditional modes of representation while also showcasing his technical skill as a painter. The piece invites viewers to reflect on how they perceive art while also challenging them to question conventional assumptions about what makes something “art.”