Barbara Gladstone

Robert Bechtle

17 Jan - 22 Feb 2014

Installation view
17 January - 22 February 2014

Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Robert Bechtle. Bechtle’s paintings, watercolors, and drawings reflect with startling accuracy his vision of contemporary America. Throughout his career, Bechtle has returned to motifs such as the streets of his native San Francisco, automobiles, self-portraits, and his family to portray the American landscape. Drawing on the art-historical tradition of photorealism, Bechtle creates complex compositions that flawlessly depict fragments of everyday life.

For this exhibition, Bechtle will present a series of watercolors and charcoal drawings of San Francisco’s tree and car-lined streets, as well as a number of self-portraits. Often using a photograph as his point of departure, Bechtle explores different ways of framing an image, cropping scenes to include only part of the presumable subject matter or orienting the works slightly off-center – compositional effects that serve to heighten the impact of the scenes he is portraying. In several works, he enhances the hilly topography of his neighborhood, Portrero Hill, by closely cropping the picture and omitting any sky or horizon line, thus complicating the viewers’ ability to orient themselves in the work. Often moving the supposed subject of his work – including cars, trees, and row houses – to the margins, he subtly challenges both our understanding of what the subject is, as well as the assumption that the composition’s center should be prioritized over the edges of the work.

Bechtle’s new works continue to expand upon his ongoing interest in capturing the distilled and poignant moments of a world caught in constant motion. The artist’s keen attention to detail and his emphasis on even the smallest aspects of a scene inspire viewers to become more aware of the nuances of their everyday surroundings. Through this exhibition of works on paper, viewers are invited to engage with another, less familiar aspect of Bechtle’s career as one of America’s preeminent realists.

Robert Bechtle was born in 1932 in San Francisco, where he continues to live and work. In 2004, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art organized a lauded retrospective of his work that traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. His paintings have been included in major group exhibitions internationally since the 1960s, including “The Artist as His Subject,” Museum of Modern Art, New York; Documenta 5, Kassel, Germany; “The American Century: Art and Culture, 1950-2000,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; “Les Anneés Pop,” Centre Pompidou, Paris; and “Infinite Painting,“ Villa Manin Centro d’Art Contemporanea, Codroipo, Italy. Bechtle was awarded the Francis J. Greenberger Award for continued excellence in painting in 2003.

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