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Jared French

State Park

1946

Artist

Jared French (1905-1988)

Title

State Park

Date

1946

Medium

Tempera on composition board

Dimensions

Overall: 24 7/16 × 24 1/2 in. (62.1 × 62.2 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Donnelley Erdman

Accession number

65.78

Object Label

Although Jared French began State Park during a summer on Fire Island, a beach community off Long Island’s south shore, he did not consider it a painting of a particular location. Instead, his austere, dreamlike scene is evocative of Surrealism’s patently unreal settings. Likewise, the entranced figures refer to Greek, Egyptian, and Renaissance art (for instance, the tanned lifeguard in the foreground has fixed, lidless eyes and the mannered stance of a Greek kouros). The overall effect is unsettling, despite the fact that there are no visible threats pictured: the sky is clear, the ocean calm, the beach unpopulated. The image’s mysterious figure groupings and sense of tension may reflect the fact that it was painted during a period in which French was conflicted between his marriage and a homosexual relationship.

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