Robert Bechtle

born San Francisco, CA 1932-died Berkeley, CA 2020
Also known as
  • Robert Alan Bechtle
San Francisco, California, United States
Berkeley, California, United States
  • American

Bay Area painter Robert Bechtle was born in San Francisco and studied art and design at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and the University of California at Berkeley. Although he began his painting career by exploring Abstract Expressionism, Bay Area figuration, and Pop Art, it was his concurrent experiments with photography that led Bechtle to start painting from photographs in an effort to forge a visual style distinct from that of his early influences—artists such as Richard Diebenkorn and Nathan Oliveira.

Bechtle's re-creations of Bay Area middle-class suburban houses, cul-de-sacs, and parked cars document an American suburbia at once banal and reassuring. The effect has led critics to compare his work to that of seventeenth-century Dutch genre painters who nostalgically documented bourgeois life. Bechtle has said he hopes viewers might "find significance in the details of the commonplace."

National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)