Find, Learn, Price Art
Enjoy the comprehensive art database we've compiled since 1987
Membership Details
Images, sales charts, bios, signatures, 30 artist Alerts and more ...
Art auction records:  Millions of references for pricing research
Or, register for Free Alerts
To track 10 artists.

Already a member?  Sign in here

Robert Bechtle

 (born 1932)
Robert Alan Bechtle is active/lives in California.  Robert Bechtle is known for photo real streets, genre and interior painting.

Robert Bechtle

Biography from the Archives of askART

Robert Bechtle, who lives and works in Berkeley, California, was part of the photo-realist movement on the West Coast along with other well-known 'new realists' such as Paul Wonner, Richard McLean and Ralph Goings.  Differing from East Coast photo realists who did studio still lives and figures, these artists painted outdoor landscapes such as cars parked on streets, home exteriors, and streetscapes.  Often Bechtle's paintings have no direct human presence but ever the suggestion that people are nearby.

Photo-realists, a term coined by Louis Meisel, an East Coast dealer, depict everyday scenes in perfect detail emulating a photograph.  The process involves using a photographed image and projecting it onto a canvas, then tracing the lines and objects. Once the paint is applied, the result is a highly realistic interpretation of the actual scene.

Unlike some photo-realists, Bechtle used paint as texture in his paintings, and one can barely detect brushwork in his photo-like renditions.  He took inspiration from his local San Francisco surroundings, painting neighborhoods, friends, family, and street scenes, paying special attention to automobiles.  His paintings reveal his perspective on how things look to him, the color and the light of a commonplace scene.

Bechtle was born in San Francisco, California in 1932.  He started drawing at a young age and with encouragement from his teachers and family, pursued a future as an artist. After high school, Bechtle enrolled in the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California where he studied Graphic Design for four years.  He received a Bachelor's degree in Art and a Master's degree in Fine Art after his graduate work in painting.

For thirty years, Bechtle taught at San Francisco State University.

In May to October 2000, the Oakland Museum held a retrospective of Bechtle's paintings, "California Classic: Realist Paintings by Robert Bechtle".

Sources include:
Southwest Art, 5/2000, 'A California Realist' by Marina Freeman

Biography from the Archives of askART

Robert Bechtle was born in 1932 in San Francisco, California. He studied at the California College for Arts and Crafts, and at  the University of California  at Berkeley.  He won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Bechtle served in the United States Army in 1954-56.  He was an instructor at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland 1957-61; he served as Assistant Professor since 1962.  He traveled in Europe 1961-62.

Bechtle was married in 1962 to Nancy Elizabeth Dalton and they had three children.  He was first influenced by the work of Diebenkorn and Nathan Oliviera but a desire to avoid the current style in the 1960s brought him to realism.  He uses an almost imperceptible brush stroke  to depict as closely as possible the actual appearance of things; his philosophy is to find significance in the details of the commonplace.  Bechtle was a lecturer at University of California at Berkeley 1965-66; visiting artist at University of California at Davis 1966-68; and associate professor at the San Francisco State University since 1968.  His work is found in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Sources include:
American Artists, Les Krantz, Publisher
Contemporary Artists, 2nd Edition

Compiled and written by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Biography from Gallery Paule Anglim
For over thirty years, Robert Bechtle's singular preoccupation with effects of light, shadow, perspective and surface have yielded images of ordinary streets, cars and houses.  Bechtle's images are painstakingly controlled with a quiet psychology.

Robert Bechtle's work has been exhibited internationally and is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney and the Guggenheim Museums in New York, as well as the Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian Institution and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Born: 1932 San Francisco, CA
Education: 1958 California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA; M.F.A.
1954 California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA; B.A. University of California, Berkeley, CA

Teaching Experience:
1968- San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
1967 University of California, Davis, CA
1965 University of California, Berkeley, CA
1957- California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA

Television Coverage:
2/1/89 "Shock Of The Old", segment of: Signals, Produced by: Illuminations Ltd., Channel 4
Television, London, England

Selected Collections:
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ
Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, CA
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Fine Arts Museum of San Diego, San Diego, CA
E.B. Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Sloan Galleries of American Painting, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand
Gibbes Art Gallery, Carolina Art Association, Charleston, SC
Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, San Arts Council of Great Britain
Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, NY
Indiana National Bank, Indianapolis, IN
Federal Reserve Bank, San Francisco, CA
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
United States Information Agency, Washington, DC
City and County of San Francisco, CA
Southland Corporation, Dallas, TX
Pacific Telesis, San Francisco, CA
Richard Brown Baker, New York, NY
Robert Rossi-Arnaud, Paris, France
Malcolm Forbes, New York, NY
Glenn Janss, Sun Valley, ID
Sydney and Frances Lewis, Richmond, VA
Dr. Peter Ludwig, Aachen, West Germany
Ivan and Marilynn Karp, New York, NY
John and Gretchen Berggruen, San Francisco, CA
Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA
Philip Anglim, Venice, CA
Sheldon Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Neue Galerie der Stadt Aachen, Aachen, Germany
Bernardo Collection, Sentra Museum, Lisbon, Portugal
San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Mills College, Oakland CA
California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA
Doane College, Crete, NE

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Share an image of the Artist

  Full access to biographies is
  free each Friday

About  Robert Bechtle

Born:  1932 - San Francisco, California
Known for:  photo real streets, genre and interior painting