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George Tooker papers, circa 1851-2010

Biographical Note

George Tooker (1920-2011) was a painter based in Hartland, Vermont and New York, New York. Tooker was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 5, 1920 to George Clair Tooker and Angela Montejo Roura. He graduated from preparatory school at Phillips Academy, Andover in 1938 and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University in 1942. Tooker studied drawing and painting under Reginald Marsh, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and Harry Sternberg at the Art Students' League from circa 1944 to 1945.
Tooker became acquainted with American painter Paul Cadmus while studying at the Art Students' League. Cadmus introduced Tooker to a circle of artists and writers living and working in New York and Europe in the mid to late 1940s that included George Platt Lynes, Jared and Margaret French, Monroe Wheeler, Glenway Westcott, and Lincoln and Fidelma Kirstein. He lived and worked with his partner and fellow artist William Christopher in New York City and later Hartland, VT.
In 1953, Tooker was commissioned by writer and philanthropist Lincoln Kirstein to design the sets and costumes for The Saint of Bleecker Street, an opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti. In 1966, the Wasemquia Charitable Trust sponsored the Vestris Prize for Choreography in cooperation with the Boston Ballet Company and Tooker was invited by trustee Henry H. Crapo to participate on the Committee of Judges for the Vestris Prize. In 1968, NASA commissioned Tooker to produce drawings and one painting documenting the development of spacecraft at the Goddard Space Flight Center located in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Tooker's paintings are found in numerous art museums and galleries including the Whitney Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, DC Moore Gallery, Robert Isaacson Gallery, and the Venice Biennale. In 1968, Tooker's paintings were featured in the art magazine, Avant-Garde.