Panopticon Prison

Panopticon Prison; oil on canvas, approx. 44" x 46" circa 1991, Robert Egert

Panopticon Prison; oil on canvas, approx. 44″ x 46″ circa 1991

In the late eighties those of us who were grappling with post-modernism and the impact of European philosophy on American painting looked to memes such as the panopticon as recurring motifs. Covered in some depth by Foucault, the panopticon was a prison design that provided lines of sight for guards so that they could command a view of hundreds of prisoners from a single vantage point. The panopticon became emblematic of a society of control, of the insidious and ineluctable streams of power that run through culture and society.