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Paschke's pop paintings took art to a new level

Although Ed Paschke is not a household name, David Russick, Herron Galleries curator/director, believes one day Paschke will be as famous as Picasso or Monet.

Paschke exhibition image

This Ed Paschke painting will be on display at the Herron School of Art and Design.

A pop artist who passed away suddenly in 2004, Paschke created images that focused on American celebrity and history, while he explored issues of identity, race and fame. His unique, vividly colored images were heavily influenced by the pop artists of the 1960's—particularly Andy Warhol. Paschke's work gained him notoriety in Chicago where his work was featured in a one-person art review in 1990 at the Art Institute. The exhibit later traveled to the Pompidou Center in Paris.

The IUPUI Herron School of Art and Design is bringing Paschke's work to Indianapolis from March 9 through April 29. The exhibit, Ed Paschke Nonplussed: Paintings 1967-2000, will compliment the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art's Pop Goes the West, a celebration of the great American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and his American Indian Encounters series (now through April 15).

"One of the reasons we are bringing the work is that he is such a great artist," Russick said. "He is one of the most important artists that have ever come out of the city of Chicago. His work really is magnetic and once you see his work, you're not likely to forget it."

Paschke was a traditional oil on linen painter, which Russick said is one curiosity of the artist's work. Although his work was very contemporary looking, it was very traditionally created. Paschke used a glazing technique slowly building up colors in his paintings that give them a luminosity of their own. What he used though was a technique that dates back to the Renaissance, according to Russick.

Ed Paschke painting

Ed Paschke used vivid colors in his work.

Print-Quality Photo

Paschke started all his paintings with a black and white image and colorized it as he painted. He applied paint in very thin layers, allowing the white background to still be visible and creating a luminous appearance. Some of his paintings could fill a canvas 80 inches wide and 100 inches tall.

The subject matter of fame, notoriety and identity are big Warhol issues and also key issues for Paschke, Russick said. Although his work won't be confused with a Warhol, by taking a conceptual look at Paschke's work, it's easy to see the similarities, particularly the celebrity issues at hand.

"His work is very people-oriented," Russick said. "He'll choose someone quite well known and then disguise their personality through the color process. So when you are looking at a Paschke, there is almost a sense of mystery or hidden identity. It's almost like meeting someone wearing a mask and you're pretty sure you know who it is, but maybe you're wrong. Paschke's work will kind of do that to you too. It's very seductive and sometimes it's a little off."

The exhibit is free and open to the public. The public opening for this exhibit will be March 9 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Visitors to the exhibit may purchase a catalog that references the pieces in the show. For more information, visit