Peter Saul

Peter Saul (1934, San Francisco, CA, USA).
Lives and works in New York, NY, USA.

“I always do things the wrong way, which is completely empty Territory.” – Peter Saul

Peter Saul is widely regarded as one of the most significant artists of our time, known for his provocative and daring approach to art. Often described as a “violator of good taste”, Saul has been hailed as a successor to Surrealism and credited as the father of Pop Art.

His groundbreaking contributions to the art world include the establishment of Bad Painting, a distinctive style characterized by vibrant colors and exaggerated distortions that serve as a jubilant portrayal of societal lawlessness and violence. Through his works, Saul employs biting sarcasm to critique these issues, creating thought-provoking “indictments” of contemporary society.

Saul’s influence extends beyond his artistic style. He is recognized as a pivotal figure in the emergence of a politically incorrect movement that has flourished among diverse artists in the United States, such as Sue Williams, Kara Walker, Robert Melee, and Carroll Dunham. His bold and unapologetic approach has inspired a generation of artists to challenge societal norms and engage in vibrant political discourse through their art.

Over his illustrious six-decade career, Saul has consistently pushed artistic boundaries. In the 1950s, he introduced iconic comic and cartoon characters like Superman and Donald Duck into his expressionist paintings. In the mid-1960s, he dedicated a series of works to vehemently protest the Vietnam War and its associated militarism. In the 1970s, he embarked on reimagining masterpieces like Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” and Picasso’s “Guernica”, infusing them with his unique perspective. Continually drawing inspiration from mass media and art history, Saul’s works captivate viewers through their childlike markings and juxtaposition of clashing colors, evoking both disturbance and engagement.

Despite the apparent irreverence in his paintings, Saul’s art is underpinned by a profound understanding of art history. This foundation allows him to forge sophisticated and impactful dialogues between stylistic formal considerations, political ideas, and autobiographical details. By melding these elements, Saul creates a powerful visual language that challenges viewers and encourages introspection, sparking critical reflection on societal issues and artistic conventions.

“The important thing is that a work has to look fresh, to be as original as possible. That means it has to have its own idea and psychology. I try to make it worth looking at, to turn it into a sensation. True or false doesn’t matter at all as long as it’s disturbing or funny, because I love all psychology. Bad things make me laugh just as often as good things. This has been my art style for over 55 years. I am open to any humor, except sophisticated humor. Too many good artists have sought after it. The secret of the success of a “bad” artist is in overcoming the need for approval.”
– Peter Saul

In 2020, the New Museum in New York City paid tribute to Peter Saul’s remarkable career with a major retrospective exhibition titled “Peter Saul: Crime and Punishment”, curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari.

Works by Saul are found in the collections of leading museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, USA), Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY, USA), the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL, USA), Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (Los Angeles, CA, USA), Museum Ludwig (Köln, Germany), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (New York, NY, USA).

Peter Saul

  • Peter Saul - Return to the Alamo

    Return to the Alamo
    Acrylic / canvas
    198 x 305 cm

    Peter Saul. Crime And Punishment, New Museum, New York. 11 Feb–31 May 2020
    Naturally Naked. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow. Aug– Dec 2019
    Peter Saul. Fake News. Mary Boone Gallery, NY. 9 Sep–4 Nov 2017

    Catalogue 'Peter Saul. Crime And Punishment', New Museum, New York, 2020. pp. 178–179

  • Peter Saul - Fall of Constantinople (1453 A.D.)

    Fall of Constantinople (1453 A.D.)
    Acrylic on canvas
    198 x 274 cm

    Peter Saul. Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA, USA. 22.06.2008 – 21.09.2008
    Peter Saul: You Better Call Saul. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, Russia. 22.04.2016 – 31.08.2016

    Catalogue “Peter Saul”, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA, USA, 2008, p. 29
    Catalogue “Peter Saul. You Better Call Saul”. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 2016 pp. 14-21

  • Peter Saul - Here Comes the Garbage

    Here Comes the Garbage
    Acrylic on canvas
    183 x 213 cm

    “Peter Saul”. Mary Boone Gallery, New York, 24 March–28 April 2012
    “Peter Saul: Neptune and the Octopus Painter”. VeneKlasen Werner Gallery, Berlin, 27 April–29 June 2013

  • Peter Saul - Viva la Difference

    Viva la Difference
    Acrylic on canvas
    182,9 x 182,9 cm

    Peter Saul: New Paintings. David Nolan Gallery, New York, 2.04.2009 – 23.05.2009
    Peter Saul: Sheer Terror. Nolan Judin Gallery, Berlin, 13.03.2010 – 24.04.2010
    Peter Saul: You Better Call Saul. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 22.04.2016 – 31.08.2016

    Catalogue “Peter Saul: New Paintings”, David Nolan Gallery, NY, 2009, 36p. pp. 16-17
    Catalogue “Peter Saul. You Better Call Saul”. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 2016 pp. 34-37

  • Peter Saul - Wall Street Suicide

    Wall Street Suicide
    Acrylic on canvas
    178 x 152 cm

    Peter Saul: Neptune and the Octopus Painter. Veneklasen Werner Gallery, Berlin, Germany. 27.04.2013–29.06.2013
    Mystifiers. NCCA, Moscow, Russia. 12.02.2016–20.03.2016
    Peter Saul: You Better Call Saul. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, Russia. 22.04.2016–31.08.2016

    Catalogue “Mystifiers”. NCCA, Moscow, 2016 pages 9, 13, 79-81
    Catalogue “Peter Saul. You Better Call Saul”. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 2016 pages 46-47, 49-51