Academic Nudes (for Thomas Eakins) serves as a simple, yet refined coda for a conceptual series of work artist Ted Kincaid has pursued for the past 8 years. Kincaid has forever looked to the early history of the photographic process to inform the trajectory of his image-making evolution, continually subverting the notion of an objective photographic record by digitally manufacturing images from scratch that bear the look and feel of an objective photographic record, even though they were largely wholesale concoctions of his historically-informed imagination.
Here, with this quiet suite, Kincaid again subverts what we expect to see from his workshop, by presenting us with, for him, rather straightforward photographic meditations on the classic male form… real photographic documents from an artist who has continually labored to make us question everything we see from his hand. With Academic Nudes (for Thomas Eakins), we observe Kincaid in an almost real time dialogue with an artist who has, for an extended period, continually informed and influenced the process of his image-making.
“Eakins figures, to me, each represent a self-portrait… an attempt to communicate the feeling of self-immersion in experience,” Kincaid remarked recently. “In a way, though, all artists project a rather raw version of themselves in the process of rendering ‘the subject.’ I was just profoundly drawn to, not only Eakins painted depictions of the human form, but his photographic studies as well. For him, it seems, turning the camera on others was the most honest manner in which he could depict himself.”
Academic Nudes (for Thomas Eakins), along with the Trinity Portfolio, are about as close as we will ever get to seeing this convoluted conceptualist/minimalist/maximalist/romantic stripped of his trappings… literally, so to speak. Honest, warm and intimate images from an artist whose entire career has involved throwing his viewers curve balls.