Peter Sacks

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Peter Sacks was born in 1950 in South Africa. He lived there for the first half of his life, mostly in the city of Durban, on the Indian Ocean. 

Sacks studied at Oxford, as well as in the United States, at Princeton and Yale (where he wrote, partly as his thesis, The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats). All through this time, which included the study of art and the history of painting – from the rock-art of Southern Africa to the frescoes of the early Renaissance, from the funerary portraiture of Egypt to the entangled figurative and abstract heritages of Modernism – Sacks also spent years of travel, often times on foot. Walks across various parts of South and North America, Africa, Europe and Asia, comprised much of his development on a formal as well as cultural level.
In addition, the shifting confluences of poetry and painting (Sacks is also the author of five volumes of poetry) – elements of narrative, music, metaphor or symbol, as well as those of envisioning and evoking rather than depicting – arrive at visual concerns at once bodily, topographical and architectural. One senses the presence of battlegrounds or construction sites of ancient yet contemporary history. A procession of figures moves through some purgatorial region, caught between birth and catastrophe, between despair and survival. His recent paintings challenge our assumptions of what might or might not be human, whether in ourselves, or in the marks we make upon the spaces we inhabit, construct, deform or save.

Peter Sacks divides his time between Normandy, France and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he teaches at Harvard University.


Gallery Exhibitions

Selected Works

Exit Strategy, 2009-12 (76 3/4 x 153 1/2 inches)


Bedford, Christopher. Hand Upon Hand (catalogue essay)
Aftermath: New Paintings. New York: Robert Miller Gallery, 2014

Corbett, William. Peter Sacks: ‘Everywhere’
Paris: Galerie Piece Unique, 2007

Friedman, Donald. The Writer’s Brush: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture
with essays by William Gass and John Updike
Minneapolis: Mid-List Press, 11 Sep. 2007

Menand, Louis. What It Is Like to See a Sacks
New York: Paul Rodgers 9W, 2009


Bloch, Talia. Peter Sacks New Paintings
The Brooklyn Rail, 6 Nov. 2012

Shuster, Robert. Peter Sacks: New Paintings
The Village Voice, 24 Oct. 2012

Merkin, Daphne. Where a Thousand Words Paint a Picture
The New York Times, 22 Dec. 2012

Lerner, Ben. Peter Sacks
Art in America, 11 Jan. 2013

Krauss, Rosalind. Peter Sacks
Artforum, Feb. 2010: 186-187

Malz-Leca, Leora. Peter Sacks, Nov. 2009

Bedient, Calvin. Peter Sacks
Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion. No. 2. 2009

Molesworth, Charles. Retinal and Reticular: The Paintings of Peter Sacks
Salmagundi Magazine. 177. Winter 2013