George Deem (1932-2008), a New York City based painter was best known for his original reinterpretations of the works of master painters. Raised on an Indiana farm, Deem showed an early interest in art and after graduating from Vincennes University in 1952 enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His studies were interrupted by service in the U.S. Army. He completed his program at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1955.
After moving to New York City in 1958, Deem worked in the display department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art while continuing to paint original works after hours. His work was first exhibited at Barnard College, and in 1963 he had his first one man show at the Allan Stone Gallery, which represented him throughout his career. Later he also was affilated with Nancy Hoffman Gallery and Pavel Zoubok Gallery.
Deem travelled abroad, spending considerable time in Italy where he was influenced by classical art and architecture and began painting realistic figural images. He was interested in reinventing and reconstructing the art of the past, borrowing from artists such as Vermeer, Caravaggio, Goya and Millet. Deem produced a series of paintings relating to Vermeer's work, finally writing a book about this endeavor, Art School and How to Paint a Vermeer. Deem also wrote poetry, was involved in set design, and danced at Bennington College and other venues.
Deem's work was acknowledged in the academic world and he served as artist in residence or visiting artist at MacDowell Colony, Illinois State University, and other institutions. His work appeared in museum exhibitions in the United States and abroad, and is included in the permanent collections of museums including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, New Britain Museum of American Art, and Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University, as well as in private collections.
George Deem died in 2008 of lung cancer in New York City.