Kid Stuff » Photorealism

Uncle Sam - Carnival Prize 1942

Uncle Sam - Carnival Prize 1942, Greg Hildebrandt
Uncle Sam - Carnival Prize 1942

Greg Hildebrandt

Uncle Sam, the inaugural painting in Greg Hildebrandt's Kid Stuff series, marks his pursuit to elevate the slob art he adores into the annals of high art. Although easily dismissed in its proper form, once painted by Hildebrandt, this chalk figurine of Uncle Sam has now been placed on the proverbial pedestal. No longer to be ignored or dismissed as trash, it is now something to be seen and shall take its rightful place as a work of American Folk art.

Greg Hildebrandt (American, b. 1939)
Uncle Sam, Carnival Prize 1942, May 2021
Acrylic on Canvas
22 X 38 inches (55.88 X 96.52 cm)

Some of his most intriguing and thought-provoking works to date, Kid Stuff is the latest collection of still-life paintings by Greg Hildebrandt. In this series, Hildebrandt explores the passage of time and the deterioration that naturally comes with age by cracking the seal on his toy chest and exposing the viewer to its inhabitants. By painting his childhood toys as they appear now, weathered and torn, Greg Hildebrandt masterfully evokes simultaneous feelings of nostalgia and unease; Bringing a smile to the face, all the while knowing that something is not quite right. In these larger-than-life depictions, the artist carefully renders every detail, paying particular attention to the way the light scatters across the surface, highlighting every crack, wrinkle, fold, and blemish.
Using a spotlighting technique, Greg Hildebrandt paints a stark contrast between the subject and the darkened abyss in which it sits, establishing compositions that confront the viewer and demand attention. Despite the darkened persona with which these puppets first appear, the viewer can surmise the love and affection Hildebrandt has for the toys themselves through the subtle brushwork. By rendering these toys with such exquisite detail, Hildebrandt has elevated the subjects above their earthly status. Capturing their portraits is the highest honor he can bestow.
With this in mind, it is clear that naming the series Kid Stuff is a tongue-in-cheek swipe at the establishment that has so often looked down on things Hildebrandt is passionate about, refusing to acknowledge the artistry and dismissing it as Kid Stuff.