Huntington Buys George Tooker's "Bathers"
|George Tooker, Bathers (Bathhouses), 1950. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens|
George Tooker was a magic realist who admired the monumentality of Piero della Francesca and worked in tempera. He is associated with Paul Cadmus (Tooker's sometime boyfriend), Jared French, and Margaret French. This complicated menage summered in Fire Island, Provincetown, and Nantucket, swimming against the abstraction riptide of the New York school.
Tooker is the subtlest of this band of outliers. Bathers dates from the apex of his career, the same year as The Subway in the Whitney Museum. In these and a handful of other claustrophobic genre scenes, Tooker finds mid-century alienation as his medium and message. Life is an anxious beach.
|Albert Herter, Woman With a Fan, c. 1895. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens|
A nameplate on the back of the Huntington painting identifies its subject as "Miss Maude Bouvier." That would be the grandmother of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis; also the mother/grandmother of "Big Edie"/"Little Edie" Bouvier, of Grey Gardens notoriety.
|Albert Herter, The Bouvier Twins, 1926. Private collection|
Maude Bouvier would appear to be some relation to Marge Bouvier Simpson, whose husband and son feature in an animated sitcom's homage to George Tooker's The Subway.