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 Joseph Richards  (1921 - 2007)

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Lived/Active: New York/Illinois/Iowa      Known for: photo realism-mechanical subject painting

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Fantastic Universe, paperback digest cover, January 1954
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and in Chicago at the Art Institute, the American Academy and the Mizen Academy, Joseph Richards painted rural and urban industrial subjects in a photo realist style.  Among his images are cupolas of homes, barns and churches; sections of mechanical parts such as pulleys; and hayloft ventilators.  He describes these types of paintings as "one bit of whimsy and frivolity displayed in an otherwise austere and functional structure" . . .

In the 1970s, he began focusing on mechanical subjects including sections of railroad locomotives.  This interest began in 1991 when a steam locomotive on a scenic line caught his eye.  The artist said:  The sight and sound were very exciting and the complexity of the machinery was like a wild abstraction.  The intricacy of the locomotives movements was a marvel to see.  I was reminded of my childhood when I used to watch these giants working in the local switchyards. Back then, I was a bit frightened by them.  They seemed almost to be living entities.  Even standing idle with their steam up, they were never silent---they panted, grunted and hissed.  I knew I wanted to paint these truly remarkable machines."  As Richards pursued the subject, he became aware that about 200 hundred "of these grand old machines" were still in working order.

Joseph Richards was born in Des Moines, Iowa and graduated there from high school.  With money from savings, he went to Chicago and began studying art at night while working days in a men's clothing store.  From 1942 to 1945, he served in the U.S. Navy, serving in the Pacific.  In 1943, he married his wife, Betty, whom he met while working in the clothing store.  After the War, he studied at the American Academy of Art and served with the U.S. Coast Guard as a merchant seaman.  In this capacity, he traveled to many foreign countries including France, Norway, Belgium, Denmark and South America.  In 1951, he spent three months in Europe and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy.  From then, he was able to focus on his art career and some of his first gallery exhibitions were in New York City, Scottsdale, Arizona and Washington DC.

Richards' interest in cupolas began when he and his wife moved to Hillsdale, New York where he saw many peoples with them and found them aesthetically pleasing.

His wife died in 1995, and he was slow to begin painting again.  But living another twelve years and finding a companion, Eleanor Joan Jarvis, he resumed his love of working with his easel.

Exhibition venues include the Tucson Museum in Arizona; Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio; National Academy of Design in New York; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Audubon Artists; Texas Fine Arts Association in Austin, Texas; the Silvermine Guild in New Canaan, Connecticut; and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond where he won the Distinguished Artist Award in 1979 at the Virginia Artists 27th Biennale.

Paintings by Joseph Richards can be found in the collections of the Tucson Museum of Art, American Republic Insurance Company, Mobil Oil Company, AMOCO, United Airlines, Chubb Realty, Caravan Products and Siemens Telecommunications.


Information submitted by Lisa Bush Hankin, Gallery Professional.  Her sources are materials from New York galleries representing the artist.

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