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Janet Bishop

(b San Francisco, CA, May 14, 1932).

American painter. Native of the San Francisco Bay Area, known for careful observation and explicit use of snapshot-like photographic source material for paintings of family, cars, and residential neighborhoods. The artist rose to national and international prominence in early 1970s as part of the Photorealist movement (see Photorealism).

From the 1960s, Bechtle pursued a quiet realism based on the things he knew best, translating what seem to be ordinary scenes of middle-class American life into paintings. Following an early childhood in the Bay Area and Sacramento, his family settled in 1942 in Alameda, an island suburb adjacent to Oakland where his mother would occupy the same house for almost 60 years. The neighborhood appears in many of Bechtle’s paintings.

Bechtle earned both his BFA (1954) and his MFA (1958) at Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts, where he studied graphic design and then painting. During his student years and into the 1960s, Bechtle was influenced by Pop art’s precedent for the use of commercial subject matter and techniques. He was likewise interested in Bay Area figuration, especially the subjects and structure of paintings by ...

Article

(b Monroe, WA, July 5, 1940).

American painter and printmaker. He studied (1960–65) at the University of Washington, Seattle, at Yale University, and at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. During this period he painted biomorphic abstract works, influenced by the avant-garde American art of the previous two decades. After a brief experiment with figurative constructions, he began copying black-and-white photographs of a female nude in colour on to canvas. After abandoning this approach he used a black-and-white palette, which resulted in the 6.7 m long Big Nude (1967–8; artist’s col., see Lyons and Storr, p. 14). Finding this subject too ‘interesting’, he turned to neutral, black-and-white head-and-shoulder photographs as models, which he again reproduced in large scale on canvas, as in Self-portrait (1968; Minneapolis, MN, Walker A. Cent.). He incorporated every detail of the photograph and allowed himself no interpretative freedom. Working from photographs enabled him to realize the variations in focus due to changing depth of field, something impossible when working from life. He continued in the black-and-white style until ...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Cheshire, 1946).

English sculptor and draughtsman. He studied painting at Hull and Manchester College of Art (1963–7), and then moved to London, where he studied at the Slade School of Art (1967–9). Davis’s early work, similar to some of the photorealist sculptors in America, such as Duane Hanson, involved casting figures and dressing them in clothes, for example Young Man (1969–71, London, Tate). He often made group scenarios that suggest of ritual, a suggestion enhanced by the formal clothes the figures wore and also by the masks or hats that Davies placed on them. In works such as Three Figures (1971; see 1985 exh. cat.) there is a dynamic of dominance and submission between the figures, with one kneeling on the floor, another standing on a chair in front of him. Davies subsequently moved away from the extreme realism of these works and began to make work that was more obviously sculpted, such as ...

Article

(Louis)

(b Denver, CO, Nov 24, 1941).

American sculptor. He studied at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1961–5), and was an art assistant at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (1966–8). He had his first one-man show at the OK Harris Gallery in New York in 1970. He rapidly developed a style of casting and then painting fibreglass or polyvinyl acetate sculptures of figures from live models. His techniques evolved to include refinements for achieving his hyper-realistic effects, including layering paint and glazes to depict a variety of skin surfaces and veins, creating individual characteristics such as moles and freckles, and implanting hair instead of adding wigs (see fig.). The extreme verism of his work links it to Photorealism, although it lacks the strong cultural identity evident in much Photorealist sculpture and painting. Many of the sculptures are of one or two young, elegant, and casually posed nude figures, as in ...

Article

Mark W. Sullivan

(b Long Beach, CA, Nov 4, 1944).

American painter and printmaker. Eddy studied at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu (BFA, 1967, MFA, 1969) and came to prominence in the early 1970s as an exponent of Photorealism, producing airbrushed paintings based on photographs of automobiles (e.g. Untitled, 1971; Aachen, Neue Gal.), the displays in shop windows or still-lifes, as in New Shoes for H (1973; Cleveland, OH, Mus. A.). He treated similar subjects in screenprints and in colour lithographs such as Red Mercedes (1972; see 1973 exh. cat., p. 35). Rather than basing a painting or print on a single photograph, as was the case with other photorealists, Eddy would work from as many as 40 photographs to ensure a consistently sharp focus for his often spatially complex images.

From the 1980s Eddy’s focus shifted away from photorealism towards metaphysics, with images placed in porteic relationships to one another; describing his art as ‘echoing ecosystems’....

Article

Kristina Wilson

(b Los Angeles, CA, Feb 28, 1977).

American painter. Wiley grew up in south central Los Angeles and at the age of 11 his mother began enrolling him in weekend art classes at area museums. He attributed his later focus on the genre of portraiture to his early exposure to portraits in the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, by Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds . He earned a bachelor’s degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, and then received an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2001. He subsequently became the artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. It was during this residency that Wiley developed the artistic program that would define his career for most of the next decade: large scale oil portraits of African American men wearing 21st century hip-hop-inflected attire (sweatshirts, down jackets, jeans, jewelry) in poses taken from old master paintings. Instead of a coherent narrative background, these figures stand against an abstract ground (a solid color or blue sky with billowing clouds) and are surrounded by ornate patterns (taken from a variety of sources) that swirl behind them and occasionally over their bodies. Wiley’s style is similar to that of the Photorealists of the 1970s, with its painstaking detail and lush, almost fetishistic attention to the folds of clothing and the glow of skin (...