Ed Paschke

Nouvelle, 1983

American, 1939–2004

As an artist Ed Paschke was interested in the interaction of humanity, technology and how images were portrayed by visual media (newspapers, magazines, film and video). In the 1970s his work borrowed images from print media and other elements of pop culture. Electronic media, including television technology, consumed his interest in the 1980s. The electronic impulses and horizontal bands of color that created the TV imagery were explored again and again in his paintings and drawings of the period.

Paschke understood the paradoxical nature of the television image and how it created the illusion of a face or a figure but was, in reality, a series of electronic bleeps to be manipulated. Using the contrast and color knobs on the front of the TV, viewers could adjust the television picture to make it appear more lifelike. Fascinated with the creative possibilities, Paschke journeyed in the opposite direction and imaginatively manipulated those electronic impulses toward a metamorphosis of the image.

The content in his works of this period often consisted of specific and non-specific portraits, including celebrities and historical figures, as well as the “everyman.” In this oversize, double-profile portrait of an “everyman” wearing a prototypical fedora, Paschke playfully dissects the hugely enlarged head by separating its gray silhouette from its multicolored outline. Bands of colored electronic impulses stream across and explode around the two profiles. An ear is transformed into an organically shaped rainbow. This oversized, close-up format of the head suggests an allusion to the big screen and film.

Paschke is known as a Chicago Imagist. His interest in popular culture, non-western art, surrealism and the use of brilliant color and attention to craftsmanship in his work connected him to a generation of young artists who exploded onto the art scene in the mid to late 1960s. He was part of an exhibition group called The Non Plussed Some who displayed their work at the Hyde Park Art Center in 1968 and 1969.

Nationally and internationally known, Ed Paschke’s works are in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Musee d’Art Moderne Nationale, Paris, France, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.

Illinois Arts Council Partners in Purchase Program, 1987