Robert Bechtle: A Retrospective / Edition 1

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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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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
From the camera obscura to the digital photograph, artists have long been intrigued with the idea of manipulating a projected image to suit their vision. Featuring over 100 color illustrations, this catalog to a retrospective exhibition now appearing at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and later traveling to Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (MAMOFW) allows the reader to trace the development of one of the founders of American Photorealism, Robert Bechtle. Bechtle's living works are perhaps based on photographic images, but the end result is a painstaking, layer-by-layer process that reveals the face of a generation. Bishop (curator, SFMOMA), who collaborated closely with the artist to produce this book, traces Bechtle's career from his earliest work of the 1960s to today, providing an overview of the man as both artist and observer. Thoughtful essays by Michael Auping (chief curator, MAMOFW) on Becthle's treatment of light and shadow, along with an artist's appreciation by L.A.-based artist Charles Ray make this a welcome addition to the literature of both art and social history. Highly recommended.-Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520245433
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/14/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 9.75 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

Director's foreword 6
Acknowledgements 8
Robert Bechtle : painting as we are 12
A place in the sun 36
Photographic guilt : the painter and the camera 46
Alameda Gran Torino 62
Plates with texts 64
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2005

    Capturing the Magic of California Light

    Robert Bechtle has been a creative force in California art since the 1960s, yet his name remains practically unknown outside the Bay Area artists group. This very fine monograph by Janet Bishop, designed as a catalogue to accompany the traveling exhibition of this works, should help to mend that sin of omission. The style of writing is warm and informative and, in many ways, in keeping with Bechtle's vision of the world he paints!One quick perusal of the many reproductions of his major works in this book quickly leaves the impression that Bechtle understands and successfully captures the quality of light that is peculiar to California. His street scenes of angled cars and bungalows are flooded with light and shadow. Though his art movement classification is Photorealism, Bechtle goes beyond mere photo copying techniques. His work is more about our lifestyle and our living compartments normally looked upon as mere blocks of space in which we function. Bechtle enhances everything he paints with a sunny 'romanticism' if you will. His art is more about a love affair with the atmosphere's effect on the mundane places we inhabit than it is with simple reproduction of images and landscapes.For the art lover of realism and for those who respect the prodigious gifts of representational artists, this book is a must for the library. Highly recommended. Grady Harp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2008

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