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 Bill (William Clinton) Schenck  (1947 - )



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Lived/Active: New Mexico/Arizona/Ohio      Known for: landscape, Indian life, pop cowboy painting

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William (Bill) Clinton Schenck is primarily known as Bill (William Clinton) Schenck

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Ad Code: 3
Bill Schenck
from Auction House Records.
Kayenta Country
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is from the artist, November 2000.

Bill Schenck is a contemporary American painter who incorporates techniques from Photo-Realism with a Pop Art sensibility to both exalt and poke fun at images of the West. Like the heroes he idolized in B-Westerns, Schenck might well be called the "Good Badman" of Western American art.

Early in his career, he became known for appropriating cinematic imagery, which he reproduced in a flattened, reductivist style, where colors are laid side by side rather than blended or shadowed.  Drawing upon narrative tensions that have attracted mass audiences to western fiction and movies, Schenck added hot colors, surreal juxtapositions and stylized patterning to explore clashes between wilderness and civilization, the individual and community, nature and culture, freedom and restriction.

His irreverence in associating western heroes with racism, the drug scene, consumerism and sexuality let to an evolving series of works.  Among them one finds deserts populated with cowgirls sipping champagne on the bumpers of Rolls Royces, Native Americans contemplating the statistics of their land loss, and "cerealized" self-portraits of the artist in leather and sunglasses.

Born in the Midwest in 1947, a quintessential baby-boomer, Bill Schenck attended the Columbus College of Art and Design from 1965 1967.  He then transferred to the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1969.  One week after graduation, he moved to the Soho district of New York City, where many first generation Photo-Realists, Color Field, and Minimal painters were gaining national and international acclaim.

Schenck became loosely associated with this early group of Photo-Realists and attained gallery representation both in Europe and in New York City.  His first solo show in New York sold out when he was 24 years old.  Over the next several years, Schenck had four solo shows in New York City and a successful solo show in Brussels, Belgium.  He was also included in many group shows in France, Italy and Switzerland during this time.

In the mid-1970s, a growing fascination with the simple lifestyle emulated in his paintings encouraged Schenck to move to the West, splitting his time between Arizona and Wyoming.  Now the artist had real life situations from which to draw upon for his compositions and he made increasing use of his own photography, eventually diminishing the use of the fantasy-based movie stills in favor of a new fascinationthe true American West.

Since 1971, Schenck has had 72 solo shows, 77 group shows and is included in 31 museum collections worldwide.  His work is found in major collections throughout the world and has been the subject of four museum retrospectives, the most recent titled "The West As It Never Was", at the Albrecht Kemper Museum of Art.

Mythic yet real, contemporary yet traditional, grounded in geography but not confined to it, narrative but not illustrative, serious yet humorous, comic and tragic, Schencks paintings make us reflect on the universal paradoxes.

Chosen by a panel of scholars---Peter Briggs, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Brian Dippie, University of British Columbia, Don Haggerty, Author, Peter Hassrick, University of Oklahoma, and Anne Morand, Gilcrease Museum---, Schenck was included in a recent show at the Desert Caballeros Museum titled "Masters of Western Art, 1900-2000.  This show featured the works of 30 leading painters, sculptors and photographers.  The exhibition tells the story of Western Art, its remarkable persistence, and the changes wrought upon it by time and cultural attitudes.

Bill Schenck moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1997 where undoubtedly new influences and inspirations are already beginning to emerge.  What has remained constant throughout his career is his individuality in dealing with the subject matter of the West and his unabashed borrowing of styles, techniques and color sense in a truly reverential manner. Color, composition and commentary remain steadfast in his work in all its forms, and for that Bill Schenck will remain an important figure in the art of the American West.

Born and raised in rural Ohio, he is a pop-artist and photo-realist painter of western figures and landscape who settled in Mesa, Arizona in 1975.

He attended the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio and then graduated in 1969 from the Kansas City Art Institute. In 1971, he went to New York City and worked for Andy Warhol whose influence is obvious in his work. He moved West because he loved the subject matter, and the Elaine Horwitch Galleries of Scottsdale gave him a solo show.

In the 1980s, he began painting in Canyon de Chelly in northeast Arizona.  He works from projected slide images by numbering sections and having assistants apply the paint.

Biography from Altermann Galleries & Auctioneers:
Chosen by a group of Art Historians (Peter Briggs, University of Arizona Museum of Art; Brian Dippie, University of British Columbia; Don Hagerty, Author and head of the Art History Department at UC Davis; Peter Hassrick, Denver Art Museum; and Anne Morand, Gilcrease Museum); Bill Schenck was included in the ‘Masters of Western Art 1900-2000” show held at the Desert Caballeros Museum, including renowned artists such as Joseph Sharp, Ernest Blumenschein, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Maynard Dixon.

SOLO EXHIBITIONS: 87 solo shows since 1970 across the U.S. and Europe, including four major museum retrospectives: Scottsdale Center for the Arts (1983), Wyoming State Museum (1990), American Museum of El Paso (1996), and Albrecht Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph, MO (1996).

GROUP EXHIBITIONS: 125 group exhibitions since 1970, including 64 Museum shows in the United States and Europe such as: Desert Caballeros Western Museum / Wickenberg, AZ, Metro Center for the Visual Arts / Denver, CO, Cypress College of Fine Arts / Cypress, CA, National Cowboy Hall of Fame / Oklahoma City, OK, Alberta College of Art / Alberta Canada, Centro de Arte Moderno / Guadalajara, Mexico, Edwin Ulrich Museum / Wichita, KS, Indianapolis Museum of Art / Indianapolis, IN, Allentown Art Museum / Allentown, PA, Grand Hornu Gallery / Grand Hornu, Belgium, Rose Art Museum / MA, Gallerie Trois / Port Mons , Belgium, Wadsworth Annthenum / Hartford, CT.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 155 publications including:
Books: “Leading the West,” Northland Press 1997; “Canyon de Chelly, 100 Years of Painting and Photography,” Gibbs-Smith Publisher 1997; “The American West, The Modern Vision,” New York Graphic Society Books 1984, Cowboy: “The Enduring Myth of the Wild West,” Stewart Taboxi & Change Publishers 1984
Magazines & Newspapers: Southwest Art, New York Times, Fortune Magazine, Italian Vogue, Bunte, Art News, The Santa Fean, Arizona Republic, Jackson Hole News, Soho News, Kansas City Star.

SELECTED COLLECTIONS: 117 major collections including:
Museum of the Southwest; Springfield Art Museum, University of Arizona Housatonic Community College, Tucson Museum of Art, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Missoula Museum of the Arts, Rose Art Museum, C.B. Goddard Center for the Arts, Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Matthews Center, Arizona State University, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Albuquerque Fine Arts, Museum, Midwest Museum, Brandeis University Museum, Superstition Mountain Historical Museum, Art Museum of South Texas, Clymer Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Wyoming State Museum, Yellowstone Art Center, Brigham Young University, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Nicolaysen Museum, Eiteljorg Museum, Albrecht Kemper Museum of Art, Babson College Art Collection.
Public Collections:
Sky Harbor Airport, St. Luke’s Hospital, Lander Valley Medical Center, Mayo Clinic.
Corporate Collections:
McDonald’s Corporation, Security Pacific Bank, National Bank of Switzerland, Jackson State Bank, IBM, American Airlines, Wells Fargo Bank, Suntory Liquor, Tokyo, Japan—Hilton Hotels, Sturn Ruger Corporation, Mountain Bell.

Biography from American Design Ltd.:
Arizona artist Bill Schenck takes the flat pictorial images and large scale format common to Pop Art and applies them to the popular hero of the American West, the modern cowboy.  Rather than portraying the West in a romantic manner like Remington and Russell, Schenck finds interest in the stylization and formalization of the scene, so that his figures are reduced to flat planes of line, color and patterns.  At first glance, the subject appears obvious, yet further observation dematerializes the image until it becomes an abstract composition.  Although his paintings depict the rowdy and noisy settings, his style seems somewhat static and subdued rather than dynamic.  His paintings become studies in color and light, line and pattern.

Schenck works from color transparencies, which he projects onto the canvas, transferring the picture and then filling in the sketch with paint.  He considers his system a formal "paint-by-numbers" technique, one which allows him to control colors and tones so that the effect is flattened, without contours or shading.  Formally, this technique resembles the works of other Pop artists, such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Born in Ohio in 1947, Bill Schenck was fascinated by cowboys and the West from a very early age, carrying into adulthood images from John Wayne movies & rodeos.  He studied art at Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio and the Kansas City Art Institute where he began using photographs as references as early as 1967. 

He worked in New York for five years, and developed his photo-realist style of cowboy paintings.  In 1974 he moved to Scottsdale, Arizona to be closer to the western cowboy heritage he'd known only second-hand.  True to that heritage, Schenck loves to play poker and until recently even rode bareback ponies in rodeos.  He can be seen in a number of his paintings in the reflection shown in a cowgirl's sunglasses.

Biography from Altamira Fine Art:
Bill Schenck

Western Contemporary Realist

Bill Schenck’s art incorporates techniques from Photo-Realism and Pop Art to both praise and mimic classic western images.  His work is characterized by hot colors, surreal juxtapositions and patterning which explore clashes between wilderness and civilization, the individual and community, nature and culture, freedom and restriction.

Early in his career, he became known for utilizing cinematic imagery, reproduced in a flattened, reductivist style, where colors are displayed side by side rather than blended or shadowed.  Schenck has added hot colors, surreal juxtapositions and stylized patterning to explore clashes between wilderness and civilization, the individual and community, nature and culture, freedom and restriction.

A Mid-Western baby boomer, Schenck attended the Columbus College of Art and Design from 1965 to 1967.  He received his B.A. in fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1969.  While still a young man, Bill moved to New York where he was influenced by the Photo-Realists, Color Field, and Minimalist painters in vogue at the time.  His first solo show in New York sold out at the age of 24.

In the mid-70’s the work exemplified in his paintings drew him West where he split his time between Wyoming and Arizona.  Since then he has had 72 solo shows, 77 group shows and is included in 31 museum collections world-wide.

His work is found in numerous major collections throughout the world and has been the subject of four museum retrospectives, the most recent titled “The West as it Never Was” at the Albrecht Kemper Museum of Art.   The artist currently resides in Santa Fe where new influences and inspirations are beginning to emerge in his art.

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