“QUEEN OF HEARTS: AUDREY FLACK”— An Artist You Have Never Heard Of


An Artist You Have Never Heard Of

Amos Lassen

Director Rachel Reichman brings us a documentary about an artist I had never heard of before viewing this film, Audrey Flack.

Flack began as a student of art, and then  became an artist, at the height of Abstract Expressionism. She wanted something different and by the late 1960s/early 1970s, she was fully immersed in what would be called Photorealism and was the only woman among the men to bring forth a style of painting that took an approach that was opposite to Abstract Expressionism, creating works inspired by photography with her own unique perspectives embedded in each piece. By the early 1980s, Flack became bored with this and became a sculptor and teacher while constantly innovating.

Her story is told through a circular narrative that begins with Flack discussing a canvas she abandoned when she moved on to sculpting. She returns to that canvas at the end as she prepares a new retrospective exhibit of her work, We see the details of her art.

This is a retrospective look at the career of the eighty-eight year old American artist, most known as an early photorealist painter of the 1960-70s. She is a metamorphosing artist with a unique point of view with a penchant for rule breaking and her paintings are large scale hyperreal that bring together “poppy postmodernism with the iconographies and trompe l’oeil illusions of Baroque art.”

The film is narrated by interviews conducted with Flack, and art historians, curators, and gallerists who look at the artist’s beginnings as a young Cooper Union student where she met abstract expressionists who had a large influence on Flack’s work. s, simply, “cold.”

Of its many goals, the feminist art movement of the 1960s and 1970s was interested in the recovery of works by women. By offering a detailed record of her contributions to this period, “Queen of Hearts” shows Flack as a key part of this history. As we watch Flack’s star rise, we see that her innovations became threatening to a patriarchal art world. Interview footage with a much younger Flack had and still has a frustration in response to misinterpretations of her work shaped by the misogyny and anti-Semitism of critics; as well her ostracism from realist art circles who rejected painting from photographs. Eventually, these pressures became so overwhelming that she stopped painting and moved to sculpture. 

Flack  emerges as an inspiring figure who is open, contemplative, and sharp. Her need to create is incredible.

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