Keepin’ It Mad Real.


Robert Bechtle’s 1974, 48 in. by 69 in. oil, Alameda Gran Torino, is a masterpiece of the photorealistic style he mastered in the 1960s and ’70s.

In his 2005 review of the artist’s work, The New Yorker‘s Peter Schjeldahl called Bechtle’s images visions “from a prior life,” and Alameda Gran Torino, paradoxically, “a nova of banality.”

The station wagon can’t help but be only and exactly what Detroit fashioned. Hot sunlight can’t help but glint from a bumper and produce a faint reflection of the windshield on a garage door. A closeness between the green of the car and that of a background shadow is unusual, but so perfectly meaningless that your mind may panic at the waste of its energy in beholding the fact. Then something peculiar can happen: your reflexive sense of the picture as a photograph breaks down, and the object’s identity as a painting, done entirely on purpose, gains ground. Look closely. A congeries of tiny freehand strokes delivers an inconspicuous patch of foliage. The whole work is a feat of resourceful painterly artifice. At last, it’s as if the original photograph were a ghost that died and came back as a body.

And what a body it is.


1 comment so far ↓

#1 Studio Mysteries on 09.17.09 at 2:58 am

There is something about this image that I find incredibly depressing. Not even sure why, it just makes me hate life in a way I can’t account for.

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