Kenyon College

Irving Petlin (American, b. 1934)


Irving Petlin is known as the living master of pastel. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago at the height of the Chicago Imagist movement, and then continued on to study with Josef Albers at Yale where he earned his Master of Fine Arts. He was influenced by the surrealist vibrancy of the Imagists and Albers’ masterful manipulation of color. Petlin became a political activist and was a founding member of the Artist and Writers against the War in Vietnam, was integral in the conception of the Peace Tower, and created the iconic Anti-Vietnam Poster “And Babies”. For the entirety of his career, Petlin’s work has been committed to history and its ability to be recorded in the visual medium. He describes his process as an interrogation of memory that leads to further visual, psychological, philosophical, and political exploration and believes that artists are uniquely socially situated to explore themes of injustice. Petlin has taught internationally in institutions such as Dartmouth College, UCLA, the University of Haifa, the University of California Santa Cruz, and the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is collected by such esteemed institutions as Le Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York,; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Fine Art, Boston.

Image: © Martine Franck/Magnum Photos



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