Welcome to the William A. Karges Fine Art Blog

Welcome to the William A. Karges Fine Art Blog, where you'll be able to learn about Early California and Southwest Paintings and discover information about Museum Exhibitions, Current News, Events, and our gallery's new acquisitions of original paintings created between 1870 and 1940 by a wide variety of artists. We'll feature biographies, photographs, links to websites of interest to collectors, video tours, and detailed histories of some of California's most influential and intriguing artists. Visit our Gallery at Dolores & Sixth Ave in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California to view our collection of fine paintings in person.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Quiet Landscapes of Russell Chatham

Born in 1939, a native of San Francisco, Russell Chatham was an active artist in Livingston, Montana since 1972.  A talented, self-taught painter, illustrator, and writer, his works were often highly evocative with soft tonal qualities.  He was also considered one of the world’s foremost lithographers.    

"Spring Moonrise", Lithograph

His grandfather, Gottardo Piazzoni (1872 – 1945),  was a well known early California artist and is also remembered for his simple compositions and quiet, muted colors.

Russell Chatham’s landscapes often revealed his fascination with the changing seasons and the subtle nuances of light and shadow.  His works often depicted quiet moments of solitude and spirituality.  Of his work, he said:  "Creating art is an attempt to search for something beyond ourselves".

"Winter Moonrise" 12 x 16 Oil on board - SOLD

This painting shown above, “Winter Moonrise”, is signed by the artist, on the right side, with his personally developed calligraphic character, placed within a double oval.  Chatham developed this character in his late twenties.  It was based on the distinctive shape of the little slough that lies at the head of Tamales Bay in Marin County.   

Chatham moved to Marin in 1949.  He placed this monogram, rather than a traditional signature, on all his works since his late twenties.  He said that this two dimensional calligraphic character “represents the epicenter of my relationship to the natural world”.  He also noted that “I was never comfortable seeing my name written on the face of the pictures, partly I suppose because visual and verbal language seem so at odds with each other.  But using the monogram, and doing so very discreetly, seems to help soften the presence of my hand, moving it into the shadows where it belongs.”  

"Landscape" 7 x 9 inches  SOLD

His personal interests included fly fishing, hunting, and conservation, and he wrote numerous essays and short stories on these topics.   In 1990, he began working on a series of twelve large paintings for the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.   
Chatham had hundreds of exhibitions in galleries and museums over the course of his lifetime, though he is not a prolific painter.  He sometimes only completed six or seven large paintings a year.  This kind, talented and important artist passed away on November 10th, 2019 at the age of 80 and will be remembered fondly.

For additional information on available paintings by this remarkable artist, feel free to contact Patrick Kraft at William A. Karges Fine Art in Carmel, California at (800) 833-9185.