Eric Zener

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Eric Zener (born 1966, Astoria, Oregon) is an American photorealist artist best known for figure paintings of lone subjects, often in or about swimming pools.


Zener was born in 1968 in Astoria, Oregon, to a psychologist father and a violinist mother who played for the San Francisco Symphony.[1] He grew up in the seaside community of Encinitas, California.[1] After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara[2] he worked briefly as a buyer for a department store, before backpacking around the world for nearly two years, bartering paintings for room and board.[1] In 1991 he settled in San Francisco, where he was still living as of 2004.[1]

Zener has three children, the first born in approximately 1998, the second in approximately 2002, and the 3rd in 2009.[1] As of 2009 he lives with his wife, business partner, and frequent model, Julie, in Mill Valley, California.[3] He paints mostly out of a studio in San Francisco.[4]


Zener's works have been exhibited and sold throughout the United States, and internationally, and are part of a number of prominent private and corporate art collections.[5]

Painting style and influences[edit]

Zener is a self-taught artist.[6] As of 2004 he had created more than 600 works.[1] His paintings, mostly in oil, are in a photorealist or "super-realist" style Zener describes as "Contemporary Renaissance".[1]

Water paintings[edit]

In 2003, while living in the Costa Brava region of Spain, Zener became interested in watching bathers, and began a series of paintings of water, and of people interacting with water.[1] Many paintings from this period depict women swimming underwater amidst air bubbles, or diving into the water,[1] and have been described as reminiscent of Hudson River School and Barbizon School painters.[7]

For a second, more "experimental" series of water images, Zener painted over photographic transparencies that had been mounted on a wooden box covered with silver leaf, then covered with resin. Other subjects for Zener have included beach scenes, and businessmen in various unexpected settings, such as by swimming pools or on tightropes.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jessica Lyons (2004-04-01). "Swimming strong: Eric Zener creates narrative paintings that float between introspection and escapism". Art Business News. 
  2. ^ "Eric Zener". Present Magazine. 2009-08-29. 
  3. ^ Ben Bamsey (June 2009). Artworks Magazine  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ a b Deborah Secor (June 2009). "Under the Surface". The Artists Magazine. 
  5. ^ "Eric Zener: Figures & Water in Oil & Mixed Media". Artists' Network. 2009-04-21. 
  6. ^ Susan Haynes (June 2008). "Waterscape: Eric Zener's paintings plunge beneath the surface of human emotion". Coastal Living. 
  7. ^ "Eric Zener's Oil Paintings of Swimmers in Vivid Blue Water on View at Hespe". Art News Daily. 2009-11-09. 

External links[edit]