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The Deer Park, 1962

Michael Andrews

Oil paint on hardboard | 182 x 182 cm | Tate: Purchased 1974
© Tate, London 2017 © The Estate of Michael Andrews, courtesy of James Hyman Gallery, London

Audio produced by the J. Paul Getty Museum

 

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Michael Andrews named this work after Norman Mailer's novel The Deer Park, which chronicled the moral debauchery of Hollywood. Andrews used the novel's setting to explore a recurring theme: the atmosphere of a party. He painted this in 1962, relatively early in his career. Curator Elena Crippa:

 

"This painting is a breakthrough. It's the moment where [he] manages to bring together all these fragments of different images that fascinate him, in a greater structure, where all these different elements can coexist." 

 

Andrews typically combined images from different sources. Here, he takes the white sofa at center from a furniture magazine; the green landscape behind it from a 17th–century painting by Spanish artist Diego Velázquez. On the second floor, Marilyn Monroe embraces Jose Bolanos; below them, a disembodied head rests against the couch – that's 19th–century French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. Andrews captures not only how a party looks, but how it feels. 

 

"For Andrews it was not so important to actually recognize the individual, but to depict very different ways of holding yourself when in a crowd. We have quite a few characters in this picture, very much on their own, very pensive, and just unable to fully relax themselves and enjoy this public space, where others seems to fully embrace the party atmosphere and forget about their own preoccupations and identities, and be very much more at ease with themselves." (Elena Crippa)

 

Andrews was a party–goer himself: he often went to a nightclub called The Colony Room, in the company of other School of London painters – including Freud, Bacon, and Auerbach. Nonetheless, Andrews said he was often self-conscious–a feeling he conveyed in works like this one.