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Flack studied fine arts in New York from 1948 to 1953, studying under Josef Albers among others. She earned a graduate degree and received an honorary doctorate from Cooper Union in New York City, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Yale University. She studied art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
Flack's early work in the 1950s was abstract; one such painting paid tribute to Franz Kline. The ironic kitsch themes in her early work influenced Jeff Koons. But gradually, Flack became a New Realist and then evolved into photorealism during the 1960s. She was the first photorealist painter to be added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1966.
The critic Graham Thompson wrote,
"One demonstration of the way photography became assimilated into the art world is the success of photorealist painting in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is also called super-realism, radical realism, or hyper-realism and painters like Richard Estes, Chuck Close, and Audrey Flack as well, often worked from photographic stills to create paintings that appeared to be photographs."
Art critic Robert C. Morgan writes in The Brooklyn Rail about Flack's 2010 exhibition at Gary Snyder Project Space, Audrey Flack Paints a Picture, "She has taken the signs of indulgence, beauty, and excess and transformed them into deeply moving symbols of desire, futility, and emancipation."
Flack is currently represented by Gary Snyder Gallery. Her work is held in the collections of major museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Australia.
She was awarded the St. Gaudens Medal from Cooper Union, and the honorary Albert Dome professorship from Bridgeport University. She is an honorary professor at George Washington University, is currently a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania and has taught and lectured extensively both nationally, and internationally.
In 1986 Flack published Art & soul: notes on creating, a book expressing some of her thoughts on being an artist.
Flack lives and works in New York City and Long Island.
Flack, Audrey, Thalia Gouma-Peterson, and Patricia Hills. Breaking the Rules: Audrey Flack, a Retrospective 1950-1990. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1992.