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B. BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, 1924
D. WASHINGTON, D.C., 2000

A native of Brooklyn, NY, Shirley Gorelick was a student of Brooklyn College and Teachers College at Columbia University. Studying under Hans Hofmann, Gorelick experimented with several media including oil and acrylic painting, etching, silverpoint, terra cotta, marble, and wood. Although her early works largely explored Abstract Expressionism, Gorelick soon decided to go back to realism. Early on, she created a series of paintings that reinterpreted abstract and cubist masterpieces such as Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, to which she added physical volume to Picasso’s subjects.

Gorelick remains best known for her portraits, painted in jarring colors and heavy brushstrokes that she developed during the 1960s. They feature individuals or groups and explore the relationships between family members, friends, strangers, and the artist herself. In the 1970s, Gorelick painted another series, depicting interracial families and celebrating black women in compositions that were brutally honest and filled with psychological tension. The ambivalent expressions and solemn demeanors of the sitters force the viewer to analyze both the figures' body language and their surroundings, which frequently included objects drawn from the models' own environments.

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