Tracing Robert Bechtle's career from his earliest paintings of the 1960s to the present day, this is the definitive book on one of the founders and foremost practitioners of American Photorealism. Created in close collaboration with the artist, Robert Bechtle will accompany the distinguished painter's first retrospective exhibition. Lavish plates feature reproductions of approximately ninety of Bechtle's most significant artworks, from large-scale oil paintings to intimate watercolors and drawings. These magnificent illustrations portray the range of the San Francisco-based painter's iconic imagery of California—the rows of palm trees, stucco houses, and the ubiquitous automobiles that spurred suburban expansion—as well as his lesser-known but equally compelling family scenes and stark interiors. Bechtle's preference for wide, empty spaces; his flat, sun-bleached palette; and his detached mode of recording random details impart a singular sense of alienation to his subjects. His deadpan paintings capture the essence of the postwar American experience, in which California often serves as the testing ground for the realization of national dreams.
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Janet Bishop is Curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Michael Auping is Chief Curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. He is the author of Abstract Expressionism: The Critical Developments (1987), Clyfford Still (1904-1980): The Buffalo and San Francisco Collections (1992), and Arshile Gorky: The Breakthrough Years (1995). Jonathan Weinberg is an art historian and painter. He is the author of Ambition and Love in Modern American Art (2001) and Speaking for Vice: Homosexuality in the Art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and the First American Avant-Garde (1995). Charles Ray is a Los Angeles-based artist. His writings on art have appeared in the New York Times and a variety of other publications.Review:
"Bechtle's art is, essentially, an attenuated and impeccably modest contemporary version of impressionism. It records, almost anonymously, the subtlety and variety with which the ordinary world is revealed by light. So doing, it dignifies the commonplace while also illuminating the complex, artificial process of seeing, choosing, and painting that can yield art." - Roberta Smith, New York Times "Bechtle's evocation of pure light... is a feat of genuine virtuosity." - Jennifer R. Crohn, Arts Magazine "Bechtle's work is infused with a melancholy lyricism." - Kristine McKenna, Los Angeles Times "Robert Bechtle's sparkling California light and dense shadows, his gleaming American cars parked on empty streets and neat, pastel row houses are like a reflection in someone's dark glasses: you see more of yourself than the wearer." - Abby Wasserman, The Museum of California magazine"
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