Ed Paschke

Ed Paschke

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Ed Paschke was a painter from America who is famous for his neon-hued photographs of pin-up posters, blooming televisions as well as classical Greek sculptures. Influenced by the Pop Art of Andy Warhol, he did works that mirrored media culture darkly instead of mimicked it, as one can see in his hallmark work Pink Lady (1970). Life is much about rule-breaking, about confrontation. Otherwise, history will just stand yet, he once reflected. Somebody has to come along and break the rules and try for whatever reason to go around things a different way. Even if it’s an easy sense of adventure, a sense of exploration. 

He was born on June 22, 1939, in Chicago. He studied at the School of the Art Institute located in Chicago as well as later worked as a freelance illustrator for Playboy. During his service, drafted into the Army, Paschke illustrated manuals given to new soldiers. Having returned to Chicago, he started exhibiting at the Hyde Park Center during the late 1960s as well as became a part of a loosely grouped bunch of artists called the Chicago Imagists, which involved Jim Nutt, Philip Hanson, and Gladys Nilsson. The artist passed away on November 25, 2004, in Chicago. Currently, he is memorized through the Ed Paschke Art Center who is preserving his work while servicing the art community of Chicago. His works are held in the collections of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Hirsh horn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York as well as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, among others.



Between obtaining bachelor’s (1961) as well as master’s (1970) degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ed Paschke painted, traveled, and worked in a series of short-term jobs and freelance assignments. He was then drafted into the army and there he served for 2 years in Louisiana, where he drew guns and bullets for arms manuals, in 1962. Though he resented his time spent in the military, the position exposed him to individuals living apart from his normal experience. His time in the army and also a job assisting in a mental hospital, given complicated reference points, resounded with Paschke as he started developing his surreal imagery. He returned to Chicago, completed his master’s degree with help from the GI Bill as well as undertook an ambitious schedule of exhibitions. Among these were 2 group exhibitions, Nonplussed Some (1968) and Nonplussed Some More (1969), at the Hyde Park Art Center with fellow SAIC graduates Sarah Canright, Richard Wetzel, and Ed Flood. Paschke visited an exhibition of works by Andy Warhol at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 1970. He said afterward that seeing the exhibition strengthened his inclination towards figuration. Furthermore, to use photos from newspapers as a resource, Paschke spent several hours wandering about Chicago’s colorful neighborhoods in search of interesting characters as well as street signs for including in his paintings. Several of his early works referred to celebrities and anonymous underworld archetypes; Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Claudette, pimps, prostitutes, and fetishists, all served as subjects. Though representational in style, Paschke’s composite and distorted figures and his expressionistic color palette, twist reality. Noting the emotional responses his works frequently evoke from viewers, Paschke remarked. They love it and hate it but are they indifferent to it rarely. In the 1980s, he shifted to an increasingly abstract style, with surfaces blurred by fluorescent bands of color that mimicked disruptions in current visual technology. In his career after some years, Paschke got back to figuration, where he pictured incendiary individuals from mass media. Additionally, to his artistic legacy, Paschke was called a prolific educator in the Chicago place, where he taught art theory and practice at Northwestern University from 1976 unless his death in 2004. The Ed Paschke Art Center in the Jefferson Park opened in 2014, on the tenth anniversary of Paschke’s death as well as celebrate the artist’s life and work.




Work of Paschke was recognized by a major retrospective in 1989 to 1990 organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, which then traveled to the Pompidou Centre in Paris as well as the Dallas Museum of Art. His devotion to the Chicago earned him the nickname Mr. Chicago, and in 2005, a year after his death, the city designated Monroe Street Ed Paschke Way. In June 2014 the Ed Paschke Art Center opened in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago to preserve as well as exhibit Paschke’s work, exhibit the work of other contemporary artists, and serve as an educational resource for teachers, artists, and academics. Work of Paschke is in countless private collections through the world and major museums both here and abroad, involving The Art Institute as well as Museum of Contemporary Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York. The Hirsh horn Museum, D.C., Washington, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, among others. His work continues to crop up at art fairs across the world, and he has further recently enjoyed major solo exhibitions at Gagosian Gallery New York (2012). A show by Jeff Koons, one of his past assistants, and Mary Boone Gallery New York (2014). The Ed Paschke Art Center celebrates the life and work of Ed Paschke, one of Chicago’s popular artists. It recognizes his contributions to the artistic life of the city as a cultural ambassador, family man, teacher, and friend. Ed Paschke made art about the popular and the infamous. Bold, sometimes shocking, permitted his subjects for expressing their complex personalities. He strongly believed in the capacity of the viewer for interpreting his works of art on their own terms. He reveled in the tension between opposing ideas & imagery, hoping to provoke an emotional response in his viewers. 



Ed Paschke died abruptly in his sleep from heart failure on November 24, 2004, at the age of 65. One year after his death, the city honored him by naming a street after him. The Ed Paschke Memorial Way sign stands at the North East corner of Michigan Avenue as well as Monroe Street in the downtown loop of Chicago. This little street functions as the border between the Art Institute of Chicago & Millennium Park. As per officials, it is the memorial way sign that is ever been stolen.

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