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Lincoln Perry's Charlottesville

Paintings by Lincoln Perry with an essay and interview by Ann Beattie

BUY Cloth · 104 pp. · 10 × 9.5 · ISBN 9780813925035 · $44.95 · Jan 2006

Lincoln Perry is justly celebrated for his murals and edgy narrative figure paintings, with their saturated palette and multifaceted architectural compositions—Poussin refracted through de Chirico. This beautiful new book showcases his images of Charlottesville, Virginia—many of them multipanel compositions featuring the University of Virginia and its environs—accompanied by an essay and interview by his wife, the writer Ann Beattie.

Perry’s mural The Student’s Progress, which depicts a woman’s education and social experience from matriculation through graduation, is familiar to U.Va. students, faculty, and visitors, but Perry has been painting Charlottesville subjects on and off since 1985, when he first moved to town. From his early explorations of the complex relationships between professors and students, played out against the backdrop of Jefferson’s Lawn, through his intriguing depictions of the city’s domestic interiors, buildings, and streets, Perry illuminates a different side of a place widely appreciated for its history and natural beauty.

Charlottesville, writes Beattie, "both disturbs and calls to [Perry]: it’s a paradoxically comfortable and uncomfortable not-quite-home he has been drawn to many times for reasons he can’t easily articulate.... I think that Lincoln likes the town’s quirkiness and its lack of uniformity. It’s also a place that allows him to practice the x-ray vision so many visual people have for underpinnings: the contradictions that can be drawn upon and aesthetically dramatized.... The place sparks his imagination, and with his paintbrush, he sparks it, charging the air with a bit of unexpected—but very recognizable—light."

Together, Perry and Beattie give us a view of Charlottesville, of place and artistic production, that carries with it the warmth of recognition and the thrill of discovery.

Publication made possible by generous support from the W. L. Lyons Brown Jr. Charitable Foundation


A place may consider itself fortunate when a painter ardently follows it through the seasons and the years. Charlottesville—and the University of Virginia in particular—are lucky to have captured the affection of the painter Lincoln Perry. They are doubly fortunate that Perry happens to be married to the writer Ann Beattie, whose discussion of Perry’s work is enriched by the advantage of her marital circumstance, as well as her perspective as an artist in another medium.

Carrie Brown, author of Confinement and Rose’s Garden

Lincoln Perry, already a painter of national reputation, reached an entirely new level of mastery in his Cabell Hall murals, an ability to work with a truly operatic formal complexity and unity. Perry’s murals are a moving tribute to the whole classical tradition from Phidias through Raphael, Veronese, Poussin, Ingres, and Degas.

David Summers, author of Real Spaces: World Art History and the Rise of Western Modernism

About the Author: 

Lincoln Perry, whose work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions in New York, Washington, D.C., and from California to Maine to Florida, is Distinguished Visiting Artist at the University of Virginia. Ann Beattie, Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, is the author of Follies: New Stories, among fifteen novels and story collections, the illustrated monograph Alex Katz, and essays on contemporary photography.

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