Monday, June 6, 2016

Automobile as Genre: Robert Bechtle

Robert Bechtle (b. 1932) is a genre painter of the so-called photorealist variety. Come to think of it, almost any photorealist painting is genre because it depicts what a photograph (or combined extracts from several photographs) captures of the everyday physical and social world of humans. Bechtle's Wikipedia entry is here.

Bechtle bases his paintings on photographs he has taken. Unfortunately, I have never seen one of his paintings in person, so I can't report just how hard-edge they are. But a video posted on the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art website suggests that there is painterly action when viewed from really close.

One thing I especially like about Bechtle's art is that he includes carefully done images of actual automobiles -- not some tossed-off generic car-shaped collection of paint that I find all too often.


'58 Rambler - 1967

'62 Chevy - 1970

'64 Valiant - 1971

'71 Buick - 1972

'63 Bel Air - 1973

Alameda Gran Torino - 1974

S.F. Cadillac - 1975

Near Ocean Avenue - 2002
I find this interesting because it looks like Bechtle used an old slide or print as its basis. That is, the colors have yellowed and the cars shown in the foreground are no more recent than the mid-1970s -- yet the painting is dated 2002.

Alameda Intersection - Clay and Mound Streets - 2004
This is the painting featured in the video linked above.

Santa Barbara Motel - 1977
I include this to show that Bechtle paints subjects other than cars. Indeed this looks a lot like some motels near Santa Barbara's waterfront, though I can't say which one he's depicting here.

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