This book is a good survey of contemporary figure painting. After an introduction explaining the author's aim, namely to present those artists who paint the human figure with the idea of engaging wider themes than the mere painting of a portrait ( such as implicit criticism of the violence of our society in Furnas's paintings or the intimacy of the human being in Peyton's portraits), the author divides her book into five chapters in order to study what these wider themes are:
The figure unravelled The human condition Other worlds Folk tales The past deconstructed.
Lavish illustrations of works by Lucian Freud, Chuck Close, Elizabeth Peyton, John Currin, Barnaby Furnas, Marcel Dzama, Dana Schutz, Lisa Yuskavage, to name but a few, are accompanied by a short (sometimes too short...) text describing either the technique or the objective, or both, of each of the artists mentioned.
More an introduction than an in-depth study, this book makes for good reading and gives a fair overview of the state of contemporary figure painting, whatever your opinion is on the selected artists, of whom one may wonder whether they will all stand the test of time...