March 9-September 8, 2024 | Grisham Gallery

David Parrish (American, 1939-2021), Goldwing, 2016. Oil on canvas. 38 x 50 in. Huntsville Museum of Art, Bequest, 2023.07.07

CHROME: David Parrish

The work of late Huntsville-based artist David Parrish stuns with its technical virtuosity. Over the course of his decades-long career, Parrish journeyed from a concept artist for aerospace industries to an acclaimed photorealist painter. From early experimentation to the iconic portrayal of motorcycles that brought him national acclaim, these artworks from the Huntsville Museum of Art’s permanent collection trace the evolution of Parrish’s style and allow for a rare glimpse into an artist’s journey.

David Parrish (American, 1939-2021), Harley Fat Boy, 2014. Oil on canvas. 50 x 38 in. Huntsville Museum of Art, Bequest, 2023.07.05

David Parrish (1939-2021) was a pivotal figure in the American Photorealist movement. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, he moved to Huntsville in the 1960s. Parrish began painting in the early 1960s after graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Alabama. He began working as a technical illustrator and exhibit designer for the Marshall Space Flight Center. Originally hoping to be a magazine illustrator, fate led him to become a concept artist for the aerospace firm Hayes International in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1971, he left to begin a full-time career as a fine artist. Today, Parrish is internationally known for the pop culture subject matter and photorealistic detail of his paintings. Some of his most famous works include abstracted close-ups of motorcycles and glossy still-life compositions featuring iconic American entertainers like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.

By the early 1970s, Parrish debuted in the New York scene, finding success as a first-generation photorealist. From 1973-1976, he was represented by Sidney Janis Gallery and then moved to Nancy Hoffman Gallery. Then in 1987, Parrish joined Louis K. Meisel Gallery, founded by art dealer and gallery owner Louis K. Meisel, who coined the term “Photorealism.” Together with Meisel and other photorealist artists, Parrish helped define the iconic movement. Parrish became known for painting elements of Americana. His motorcycle paintings were his early trademark, and during the late 1980s into the 1990s he painted complex, intricate porcelain still lifes of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and other pop culture icons. He has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and internationally, including for the first time at the Huntsville Museum of Art in 1977.

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Artists’ Circle:

Patsy and Frank Haws

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Additional Support: Huntsville Museum of Art Guild, Alabama State Council on the Arts.