Philip Pearlstein (born 1924) is an American painter whose portraits and images of nude models in studio settings reinvigorated the tradition of realist figure painting. After graduating (B.F.A., 1949) from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pearlstein moved to New York to work and to study art history at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts (M.A., 1955). Initially Pearlstein painted landscapes, but beginning in the late 1950s, he began to craft his signature style: images of nude models casually posed in his art studio. His nudes offered a clinical and matter-of-fact approach to the human figure. Pearlstein painted his models in poses that can at first appear awkward and ungainly, and often the composition of his canvases results in cropped-off heads or feet, a feature that emphasizes the two-dimensional nature of the paintings. Since the 1980s, Pearlstein has enlivened the fields of monochromatic flesh with busy and brightly coloured studio props—including large patterned rugs, toys, a wide range of chairs, and curious bits of sculpture.
Pearlstein's work is in over seventy museums collections in the United States, including: the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.