Margaret McCann: Interview

Margaret McCann, Ayers Rock, 40 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 1995 (courtesy of th
Margaret McCann, Ayers Rock, 40 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 1995 (courtesy of the artist)

Larry Groff and Matthew Mattingly interview painter Margaret McCann about her work. McCann also discusses The Figure, a new book she edited, published by Skira/Rizzoli.

McCann notes that "Ideally, [painting is] 'two steps forward, one step back' a forward progression. Textures build up richly this way... My compositional spaces are shaped around my experience looking and painting, rather than from a believable deep space in which objects are placed." She adds: "what I want for the viewer – at first you’re overwhelmed, then your eye experiences everything intimately; maybe that’s how I see the world. That echoes the way I prefer to be close to what I’m painting so stereoscopic vision is activated, and I fully see around things."

The Figure, McCann comments, "responds to David Hockney’s 'Secret Knowledge' to some degree – several artists... openly describe how they use traditional as well as modern techniques like photography, Photoshop, or 3D computer programs... The New York Academy of Art asked me to project-manage a book Rizzoli was interested in doing about the school. Since it’s an academy that has been supported by both Andy Warhol and Prince Charles, and prides itself on both traditional methods, such as anatomy and indirect painting, and on contemporary discourse, I thought it would be compelling to take the long view and explore how and why the classical academic tradition has impacted the present state of figure-based art. "