NEW 006

050
Robert BECHTLE,1932 - 2020

House on Clay Street

2008

watercolor on paper

56.8 × 76.2 cm

signed with initials and dated 'RB 08'

framed

ESTIMATE :
$23,300 - $30,000
CONDITION

Very good condition.
Signed with initials and dated ’RB 08’ on the lower left.

DESCRIPTION

Robert Bechtle (1932-2020) was a pioneer of photorealism in America during the 1960s. Bechtle’s artistic career began thanks to a scholarship to attend California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts), graduating with an MFA in 1958. To begin with Bechtle painted in a gestural style before capturing an audience who were enraptured by the simplicity of Bechtle’s photorealistic compositions. Taking inspiration from the San Francisco Bay Area, Bechtle would be inspired by the minute repetitive moments that one encounters simply by living in a place. These moments contrast with life’s complexity and, as the chief curator at the San Fransico Museum of Modern Art, Janet Bishop comments, “would otherwise disappear into memory”. By immortalizing banality, Bechtle encourages us to revel in the reality of our own existence.

House on Clay Street is an exemplary example of Bechtle’s style and philosophy. The anonymous suburban street is bathed in quintessential Californian sunshine, a day that is indistinguishable from the next. This produces a feeling of monumentality, with the composition representing something eternal. The presence of cars is a symbolic constant in Bechtle’s work, with the artist believing that they added an element of “cool” to an image. Photorealism boomed in America during a time of economic difficulty during the 1970s. The post-war optimism evaporated, and with it the American dream slowly disintegrated. Images like Bechtle’s, steeped in middle class aesthetics, became a dream that many could no longer aspire to. The undramatic sun-drenched images became a fantasy to many and filled the images with a feeling of longing; longing for a simple life that was economically closed to them.

PROVENANCE

Gladstone Gallery, New York

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