Scorching social commentary, cartoon-like grotesque figures and acidic colors characterize the paintings of Peter Saul. In organizing the first retrospective of his prints, Carl Solway Gallery highlights his parallel involvement with printmaking, featuring work created from 1966 to the present. The prints engage cultural topics ranging from the Vietnam War and decades of American policies to more personal issues involving sexual politics and consumerism. Public figures from Ronald Reagan, to Angela Davis, to Donald Duck and Superman appear. In a quote from 1967, Saul stated: "Not to be shocking means to agree to be furniture". In creating rambunctious artwork aiming straight for the controversial subject matter avoided by many artists, he rejects the notion of becoming furniture with great relish. Sacred cows in the artworld and society at large are skewered with equal abandon. Influenced by a post-college sojourn in Europe, Peter Saul is sometimes associated with Pop Art and the Hairy Who painters from Chicago, but he defies easy categorization. As is often the case with extremely individualistic artists, his work has taken time to achieve acceptance and recognition. After five decades of production, the importance of his practice and his influence on generations of younger artists is widely acknowledged.
Peter Saul was born in San Francisco in 1934 and currently resides in New York City and Germantown, New York. He received a B.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1956. From 1956 to 1964, Peter Saul lived in England, the Netherlands, France and Italy. Returning to the United States in 1964, he spent a decade in Mill Valley, California. Among other awards, he received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1979 and 1985), a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993 and he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and letters in 2010. He taught at the University of Texas Austin from 1981-2000. His work is included in many important museum collections including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Stedlijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Traveling retrospectives of his paintings were organized by the Aspen Art Museum in 1989 and the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California in 2008.