Early Abstract and Modernist Painting

Ed Paschke (1939–2004)

Topcat Boy, 1970

Acrylic on canvas, 71 x 51 in. (180.3 x 129.5 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2017.3

Born in Chicago in 1939, Ed Paschke studied at the School of the Art Institute in the 1960s while working as a commercial artist and experimenting with collage and film. Upon his exposure to Pop Art he began to incorporate images borrowed directly from popular print media into his work. As evidenced in his 1970 painting, Topcat Boy, Paschke’s interest in cartoons, animation, posters, and tattoo art provided diverse source material for his colorful, playful, and often out-landish imagery. Paschke drew on his experiences in the sleazy nightclubs and wrestling venues of Chicago, making their subcultures subjects of his Pop informed art. He carefully recreated the look and feel of various media and often manipulated his source materials—adding a woman’s face to the body of a doll, or hockey gloves and a Mexican lucha libre mask to the figure of the top-hatted man in Topcat Boy—to layer his canvases with a multitude of textures and psychedelic colors that enhance his sensational subjects.