George Peck

Born in Budapest, Hungary, George Peck has been living in the United States since 1957. He studied at City College in New York, and studied with Ron Gorchov and Tony Smith at Hunter College, CCNY, as well as studying Interaction of Color with Josef Albers. He has participated in numerous exhibitions throughout the course of his career, and was a visiting professor at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 1995.

His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at institutions throughout the United States and Europe, such as; The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kate Ganz Gallery, Leo Castelli Gallery and Bette Stoler Gallery, New York; The High Museum of Art, Georgia; Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museums Hagen, The American Embassy, Germany; Baraz Gallery, Istanbul; Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, and many others.

His work has been reviewed extensively in such publications as The New York TimesArt in AmericaArtNewsArt on Paper, and Artforum, among others. His paintings are represented in numerous private and public collections in both the United States and Europe, such as: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Grey Art Gallery, NY; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, Sweden; Museum of Applied Arts, Kiscelli Museum and Ernst Museum, Budapest, Hungary. George Peck lives and maintains studios in both New York City and Buskirk, NY.

George Peck: Artist Statement

During my early childhood, my sensibilities were formed by the City of Light of Central Europe, Budapest. It was a scientific and artistic laboratory of many wonders. I looked out of my parents apartment windows (on the great Terèz boulevard of Budapest) and across there were buildings with a mansard roof, Italian windows, renaissance decoration, wrought iron balconies, added to all this a Transylvanian turret – to spur a child’s imagination; you could not have asked for a better brew of characters. Surreal, a dream. A bedtime story for a child. The city where all the dreams started.

An important aspect of my history is that I left Budapest on my own during the Hungarian Uprising when I was 15 years old- and became a politic refugee. My arrival in The United States was a long and steadfast experience of making art.

My current work continues ongoing investigations of abstraction, color and light as well as my perpetual desire to push the boundaries of visual thinking. This investigation into the conceptual and pictorial practice began early. The experience I had with the classic 1966 collaboration, “9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering”, left a permanent impression. This event, specifically the work of John Cage, broke down the conventional experience of the viewer. It provided a new and alternative way for the audience to experience and respond to music and art.

I myself continue to pose the question of how art is related to the past, and the question of how it is made and seen. As a young artist I was exposed to Josef Albers’ Interaction of Colors. After that, I worked with Tony Smith, whose rigorous discipline, sense of scale, and masterful use of simplicity left a very powerful impression on me. By contrast, the structural emphasis of the work of Ron Gorchov, with whom I also studied, impressed me with its near-meditative effect. I have contemplated at length the work of Moholy-Nagy, whose significance is never lost in my mind. The sway and authority of these influences continues to move me as my own work evolves.

The paintings I made early in my career had a strong conceptual base: they were monochromatic and painted on a structure that bent the surface. These works had pictorial illusion and a very strong physicality, working simultaneously with and against each other. Most recently, this interest in physicality has evolved into constructions that are multilayered, both literally and conceptually; they utilize the digital technology that is so prevalent in our contemporary world and attempt to break down the boundaries between painting (the static image) and film/video (the moving image).

To the viewer, these works appear in a constant state of animation, incorporating the “moving image” in their physical anatomy. The projection transforms before our eyes, dematerializing color, movement and even subject matter. Behind the layered references, these works take into consideration the new uncertainties we now face in our political, conceptual, and social landscape, which calls for critical commentary. Subject matter takes on an important new role in where the creation of a fresh conceptual space is simultaneously based in reality and illusion. Over the last two decades, my work has increasingly reflected a need to respond more directly to issues in the current sociopolitical fabric.