Reconsidering the Big Picture

Jenny Saville, Bleach, 2008, oil on canvas, 99.25 x 73.5 inches (collection of L
Jenny Saville, Bleach, 2008, oil on canvas, 99.25 x 73.5 inches (collection of Lisa and Steven Tananbaum)

Howard Hurst reviews the exhibition The Big Picture at the New York Academy of Art, on view through March 2, 2014.

Hurst writes that "we’ve been desensitized [to large-scale art work]. And because it’s so often overdone, I find myself increasingly critical of it. Yet, I walked into the exhibition space at the New York Academy of Art recently and was blown away. The current exhibition The Big Picture presents a surprising and considered look at an alternate kind of large-scale painting. Five figurative artists — Vincent Desiderio, Eric Fischl, Neo Rauch, Jenny Saville, and Mark Tansey — involved with the institution in some way present monumental canvases based at least partly on the human figure. What immediately struck me was that, despite their size, the works on display are all of a relatively intimate and human scale. Sure, the works are physically huge (they elevate a medium often associated with the easel and moderation to a hulking epic-ness); however, they also feel relatable, accessible."