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Polyplanograph, 1980

Walter Miller Askin

American, 1929
Polyvinyl decals on tinted plexiglas in wood case, electric
23 x 21-3/4 x 12 in. (58.4 x 55.2 x 30.5 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Horace and Vicki Solaini Baker
© Walter Askin

Not on view

Walter Askin’s skill as a draftsman was already well developed by the time the Pasadena native went to the University of California, Berkeley for art school. His father was a draftsman with the city of Pasadena, and Walter and his brother, who would eventually become an architect, came of age in a household where putting pencil to paper was part of daily life. It is thus no surprise that drawing is fundamental to all of Askin’s work, regardless of medium. His lithographs, of which he considers these two among his finest examples, his sculpture with drawn decals, and his paintings all include the whimsical line drawings and exquisitely modeled elements that define his work. The lightheartedness and humor present in Askin’s oeuvre often belies a more serious tone, however. Invented worlds with human-like figures are inspired by both non-Western and Western art, and this deliberate incorporation of art history, absorbed over his decades as a professor of art, contextualizes his work alongside the canon. His content deals with issues as far-ranging as the dichotomous relationship between the sexes and the criticism of art itself.

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