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 Michael Shankman  (1980 - )

About: Michael Shankman


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Lived/Active: California/Colorado      Known for: cityscape and streetscene painter

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
From San Francisco, Michael Shankman paints light-filled city scenes, especially focused on the glow of approaching sunset.  He says: "As these sources of light intermingle, they elucidate a point of time and place that I and six billion others call home."  He depicts neon cutting through clouds, light across canyons and glow from skyscrapers and apartment windows.  He loves the various angles and vantage points of his city and the contrasts between light and dark, illumination and shade.

Shankman was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, the son of parents who were professor at the University of Colorado.  They saw to it that their son had a cultural upbringing, and during his fifth grade year, he had private classes with illustrator Alexy Pendle who exposed him to a wide range of creative approaches to visual expression.  Much of Pendle's influence is evident in Shankman's work, which although not illustration, has enough reality to allow people to immediately relate to the subject matter.  He is also strongly influenced by the paintings of Edward Hopper---the pensive, lonely qualities.

Shankman attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, but instead of studying art, enrolled in classes in mathematics and political and socio science.  He is especially interested in spatial relationships and by notions of chance and coincidence and "probabilities based upon variables."

He spent a year in Italy as part of his college education, and this experience of being immersed in classical, Renaissance art turned him away from his original formal studies to art.  He said he "walked out my math class my first day back and dropped the major."  He declared a major of global studies and combined this academic pursuit with private painting classes.  His teachers were Jane Callister and Dimitri Kozyrev, and he got a painting studio on campus.  He began to sell his work and also got some portrait commissions.

After graduation, he him imposed a deadline of two years upon himself to make a success of himself in art, a goal that he met.  With friends, he shares communal space in the Mission District for painting and sharing of ideas, and they live together in a group of about 16 young people, calling themselves Million Fishes.

Todd Wilkinson, "Michael Shankman Paints San Francisco Noir", Southwest Art, February 2006, p. 90-93.

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