Decades is a painted collage of important images from significant periods of Dessner’s life here in Philadelphia. The image of his mother Mamie and his brother Teddy is from a photo taken in South Philadelphia, where Dessner was raised. He painted his address on the steps: 428 Cross Street, and added some typical Philadelphia bricks on the right side of the painting. The stained glass windows in the center of the painting are from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, located across the street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Dessner attended the Academy in the 1960's and taught there for over 40 years. The tiled floor is also from the beautiful Frank Furness-designed Academy building. As a nod to his student years at the Academy, he painted memories of two influential painters: Willem de Kooning at the bottom and Richard Diebenkorn at the top. The flowers in the center are a special memorial to one of Dessner's significant instructors at the Academy, Hobson Pittman. The urban image to the left is from a famous W. Eugene Smith photograph of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dessner was interested in the power of photographic images, and as a reference to his childhood memory of photo-booth strips, he added the triptych of self portraits to the left side of the painting.
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