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 William Acheff  (1947 - )

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/California/Alaska      Known for: trompe l'oeil southwest-still life painting

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William Acheff
from Auction House Records.
This Song's for You
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for his highly realistic still lifes, often combining objects of the present and the past, William Acheff became a resident in 1973 of Hondo, near Taos, New Mexico where he has his studio in his home.

He was born in Alaska and moved with his family to San Francisco when he was age five. He lived in the Bay Area for twenty years and began painting in 1969 when, working as a barber, he came in contact with Roberto Lupetti, an Italian artist. He took art lessons from him and received much direction including marketing help with gallery representation in northern California.

At first he worked from photographs but changed his technique to working from the objects themselves. He positions his subjects several feet from his easel and paints them in the north light of his studio. In Taos he credits artist Robert Daughters as being very helpful.

Source: "Southwest Art"

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, III:
Trompe l’oeil oil painter of Indian artifacts, William Acheff was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1947 and has been iving in Taos, New Mexico since 1973. “I paint Indian objects,” he says, “because I relate to them, maybe because I have some Indian blood and because I was close to my grandmother, but that’s not the point. I t’s the ethnic quality of the artifacts.  There’s a purity in them.  Nothing’s manufactured by machine. There sits a pot. The whole mood of what went into making that pot is a story, and that’s what I want to capture.

“I moved to California in the early 50s.  I had taken numerous art classes in high school for the simple reason that I enjoyed art.  I never had any intentions of going to art school even after the encouragement of my high school art teachers.  Went to barber college in San Francisco in 1965.  There I met artist Robert Lupetti in the barbershop in 1968, and started taking art lessons from him in 1969, again for my enjoyment.  After a month or so, he said he would like to train me on a more serious level because he felt I possessed the receptiveness and ability that he was looking for in a student.

“After six months of very regular training, five days a week and two days to cut hair, I would see him twice a month for the next two and half years for his very enlightening criticism.  Then I’d drive to Sausalito and sell a small canvas for $15 and feel just great. I moved to Taos out of curiosity at the Southwestern art movement and my first major show there in 1978 at Shriver Gallery was a complete sellout.  In 1981, my Western Heritage Sale painting Yellow Rose of Texas’sold for $45,000 at auction.”

Acheff was featured in Southwest Art, February 1981.

Source: Contemporary Western Artists, by Peggy and Harold Samuels 1982, Judd’s Inc., Washington, D.C.


Biography from Nedra Matteucci Galleries:
William Acheff is of Alaskan Athabascan heritage. He has a particular fondness for historical and ethnic artifacts, which often appear in his work. His paintings convey a sense of nostalgia, and a peaceful, meditative quality.

Though Acheff had always enjoyed painting, he never thought that he would become an artist.
He began cutting hair after attending barber college in San Francisco. He met the artist Robert Lupetti in the barbershop in 1968, and he began taking painting lessons. Encouraged, after several years of training, Acheff began to pursue art as a career.

In 1973, Acheff moved to Taos, out of curiosity regarding the Southwestern art movement. He had his first major show in 1978, and his success was almost immediate. Acheff achieved great distinction among contemporary painters for his masterful technique and original style. His compositions are remarkably contemporary, while serving as a unique homage to the past. Acheff was awarded the Prix de West at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City.

Biography from Debbie Leeuw Fine Art:
Residing in Taos, New Mexico, William Acheff brings to his art a background rich with influences of his Georgian and Athabascan Indian heritage.  His work is noted for an incorporation of Native American pottery, drums, blankets, fetishes and other arrangements of Southwestern memorabilia and relics.  And his proximity to the numerous New Mexico pueblos provides Acheff with a fertile field for these portrayals.

His 1989 Prix de West Purchase Award winner, Flapjacks, reflected his forte at using remnants of the past and an Edward Curtis historical photograph to portray a lifestyle based on old values and customs.  He also won a Special Recognition Award for that painting.  He says,"I always find that artifacts and traditions of the past seem to hold more mystical and aestetic values than those of contemporary times."

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William Acheff is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Trompe l'Oeil Painting



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