|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Post-War California artist, Robert Pearson McChesney became an Abstract
Expressionist painter, assemblage artist, printmaker, sculptor and
teacher. He was born in Marshall, Missouri, and with the
exception of a year in Mexico, 1951, and World War II military service
aboard a ship, he spent his career in California where he moved in
1936. He lived and had his studio north of San Francisco in
Petaluma, atop Sonoma Mountain. Considered one of the
"progenitors of Bay Area abstract expressionism", he had influence far
beyond his home town. Exhibition venues were in New York at the
Whitney Museum, Chicago at the Art Institute and San Francisco at the
Museum of Modern Art. |
He studied at Washington University
School of Fine Arts in St. Louis, Missouri from 1933-1934, and the Otis
Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1936 to 1937 with Fred Conway.
McChesney worked in the mural division of the Works Progress
Administration from 1938-1940, and in this capacity did ship murals for
the "USS Monterey" and for the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition where he
collaborated with twenty-five other artists.
In the 1940s he was assistant to Anton Refrigier in creating murals for
the Rincon Annex Post Office in San Francisco. During World War
II, he was a merchant marine who regularly shipped in and out of San
Francisco. He later attributed of his interest in abstract
painting to this period when he, aboard ship, would spend hours
watching the shapes and forms in the water and the play of light upon
McChesney's working method has been to lay the ground for
his painting on a flat surface, apply paint with a squeeze bottle and
then add found objects. He said: "When this whole thing sets up,
I've got what I call a 'chaotic condition', and it's my job ot get rid
of the chaos and build an abstract composition. It's amazing ---
the different shapes and forms and how they colorize together and
produce this chaos. After it sets up, that's where the work begins."
McChesney was married to Mary Fuller McChesney, artist
and author. He taught at the California Labor School, Art
Department, 1948-1949; California School of Fine Arts, 1949-1951; and
served on the San Francisco Art Institute Board of Directors, 1965-1966.
July 2000, at the time of the opening of a McChesney's retrospective of
seventy paintings in Santa Rosa, he was described by newspaper writer
"The usual adjectives used to describe active
octogenarians don't apply to McChesney. He isn't spry, for
example--he's goddamn robust. His conversation is peppered with
such anachronistic hipsterisms as "You dig?" and his eyes actively
search his surroundings.
Often garbed like some order of beatnik
cowboy in a turtleneck, cowboy hat, and full silver beard under which
lurks a bolo tie, McChesney is more than an "American painter.
He's an American original--and it shows in his art."
Exhibitions included Raymond & Raymond Gallery, San Francisco,
1944; Pat Wall Gallery, Monterey, 1946; Lucien Labaudt Gallery, 1947,
1951; San Francisco Museum of Art, 1949, 1953; Gump's Gallery, 1952,
1953, 1955; California School of Fine Arts, 1957; Reed College,
Portland, 1959; Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, 1959, 1961, 1962, (New
York), 1970, 1971; San Francisco Art Center, 1964; Twentieth Century
West, New York, 1965; San Francisco Art Commission Gallery, 1974; San
Francisco Cultural Center, 1984; California Museum of Art, Santa Rosa,
1988; Carlson Gallery, San Francisco, 1990.
included: First Spring Annual Exhibition, California Palace of The
Legion of Honor 1946; Annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibitions of the
San Francisco Art Association at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1948;
The Oakland Museum, California. A Period of Exploration: San Francisco
1945-1950; 1973; San Francisco Museum of Art, Painting and Sculpture in
California: The Modern Era 1976; Laguna Art Museum & San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art, The San Francisco School of Abstract
Daedalus Howell, 'Enduring Visions', Sonoma County Independent, July 6-12, 2000
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
David J Carlson, Carlson Gallery
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Born in Marshall, Missouri on January 16, 1913, Robert McChesney
attended Washington University in St. Louis (1931-34) and the Otis Art
Institute in Los Angeles (1936). He moved to San Francisco in
1937, worked on the Federal Art Project, and with 25 other artists
painted huge murals for the Golden Gate International Exhibition. |
During the 1940s he assisted Anton Refregier with the murals in San
Francisco's Rincon Annex Post Office. He was also a merchant
seaman who continued to ship in and out of San Francisco during WWII.
He taught serigraphy at the California School of Fine Arts (1949-51)
and Santa Rosa Jr. College (1947-58). McChesney lived in Petaluma, CA until his death on May 10, 2008.
Raymond & Raymond Gallery (San Francisco), 1944; San Francisco Museum of Art, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1960
(1st prize); De Young Museum, 1947; Labaudt Gallery (San Francisco), 1947, 1951;
Art Institute of Chicago, 1947, 1954, 1960, 1961; Gump's (San Francisco), 1952, 1953, 1955; Whitney
Museum, 1955 (prize); Sao Paulo (Brazil) Biennial, 1955; San Francisco Art Commission,
1955, 1969 (prize); Corcoran Gallery (Washington, DC), 1957; San Francisco Art Institute, 1957; Reed College
(Oregon), 1959; California Palace of Legion of Honor, 1962, 1964; Sonoma State College, 1970; Oakland
Museum, 1972, 1973; Santa Rosa City Hall, 1974; UC Hayward, 1977;
Lincoln Art Center (Santa Rosa), 1978; Marin Civic Center, 1980; Art
Exchange Gallery (San Francisco), 2002.
Art Institute of Chicago; California Palace of the Legion of
Honor; Whitney Museum (NYC); San Francisco Museum of Art; Oakland
Museum; San Francisco Art Committee.; Social Services Bldg (San Francisco);
Muskegon (MI) Museum; Washington State Art Commission.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Interview with the artist or his/her family; Art in the SF Bay Area 1940-1980; SF Chronicle, 5-31-2002.
|Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.|
|Biography from Annex Galleries:|
|Robert McChesney, painter, printmaker, sculptor, and teacher, was born
in Marshall, Missouri in 1913. He studied at the School of Fine
Arts at Washington University in St. Louis between 1931 and 1934 and
the Otis Art Institute between 1936 and 1937. |
During the winter of 1937, McChesney arrived in San Francisco and found
employment on the WPA Art Project. He was assigned the mural
project for the Federal Building for the Golden Gate International
Exposition which opened in 1939 on Treasure Island. He set-up his
studio in Bohemian North Beach in San Francisco. Politically vocal,
McChesney joined marches against racial, labor, and governmental
injustices and was an organizer for the Labor movement.
During World War II, he joined the Merchant Marine and sailed to
various ports in the South Pacific. These exotic cultures had a
profound impact on the imagery of his shipboard paintings. After
the war, McChesney returned to San Francisco where his first solo show
was at the Raymond and Raymond Gallery in 1944. He joined the
faculty of the California School of Fine Arts in 1950 and taught
serigraphy and life drawing.
During this time he lived in Point Richmond where he shared a house
with Hassel Smith and Edward Corbett, also faculty members.
Finding the climate of the school in flux, McChesney left in 1951 for a
year in Mexico, and the following year he relocated to Sonoma County,
He has had over forty solo exhibitions, including retrospectives at the
Fresno Art Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Art
Commission Gallery. He won several awards and his work is included in
the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Oakland Art
Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Worcester Art Museum, Fresno Art
Museum, Nevada Museum, Laguna Art Museum, and the San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art.
His life and art are chronicled in the book, Robert McChesney: An American Painter.
|** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.|
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