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Tom Knechtel

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Tom Knechtel
Contemporary (post 1945)
(Palo Alto, 1952 - )

As a child, Tom Knechtel was fascinated by theater, and he used handmade stuffed animals to recreate his favorite stories. After high school, he obtained his BFA and MFA at CalArts, in Valencia, CA. At a time when painting was considered obsolete by many in the contemporary art world, Knechtel and some of his classmates at CalArts found freedom in the representational medium. Knechtel works in many media, including oil paint, ink, pastel, gouache, watercolor, silverpoint, and charcoal. In the painting A Dream of Nature (An Opera) (1988), he vividly renders an imagined scene from nature in a style that eschews realism and linear perspective. His references encompass puppet shows, Kabuki Theater, Japanese and Indian prints, fairy tales, zoological prints, illuminated manuscripts, and the works of William Blake and Hieronymus Bosch. The diminutive scale of his works and the delicate precision of his technique invite intimacy by pulling viewers in and allowing them to tune out the larger world. In 2002, the Weatherspoon Museum in Greensboro, NC, mounted a twenty-five-year retrospective, On Wanting to Grow Horns: The Little Theater of Tom Knechtel, which traveled to Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Seattle. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Orange County Museum of Art; and the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu. Knechtel lives in Los Angeles and teaches at ArtCenter, in Pasadena, CA.

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