George Tooker (American, born 1920)

1949. Oil on canvas, 24 x 15 1/2". 1980.026

George Tooker’s psychologically charged paintings are often haunting and mysterious. Here, he offers no explanation for why the man is on the cornice. Captured in a moment of indecision, the man faces the frightening prospects of the unknown. He seems to contemplate leaping, yet he clings to the building—he is portrayed as cautious and courageous simultaneously. His future, Tooker seems to say, will be determined not by fate but by the man’s choice.

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