27 October 1939 |
San Francisco, California, USA
Russell Chatham (born October 27, 1939) is a contemporary American landscape artist living in Livingston, Montana. The artist is the grandson of landscape painter Gottardo Piazzoni, though he is essentially a self-taught artist. His work has been exhibited in over 400 one man shows and in museums and galleries over the last five decades. Notable art critic Robert Hughes is numbered one of Chatham's collectors and there are others as diverse as Paul Allen and actor Jack Nicholson. Chatham's work eschews the narrative tendency of much western art and presents landscapes that stand in intimate relationship towards the human figure even in the absence of it. In the early 1980s Chatham began making lithographs and now stands as one of the world's foremost practitioners of that craft.
In addition to Lithography, Chatham also produces original oil paintings. His oil paintings currently sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and there is a multi-year waiting list for commissions, but according to his dealers, he prefers printing lithographs as the more challenging art form. (Longtime Livingston residents can recall a time when early in his career Chatham traded his canvases for essential services in a barter arrangement.) Despite being a print, Chatham's lithographs have little to do with modern process lithography, which always starts from a photograph and typically only uses 4 colors. His art litographs may have 30 or 40 different layers of color, all of which have to be hand drawn on to the printing plate, and the colors selected for the final effect. To see some of the early proofs of one of his prints is to see a study in vivid and unusual colors from which it is almost impossible to conceive of the final subtle shadings and quiet colors.
In addition to his work as a painter, Chatham has also published a series of short stories "Dark Waters" in which he details the exploit of his hunting friends, like the author Jim Harrison. The stories are Rabelaisian, vulgar, and exquisitely written (one suspects with a little help from his literary friends).William Hjortsberg disputed this during a presentation in Livingston on 9/12/2008. "He is quite a good writer in his own right," Hjortsberg said. They center on hunting, food, wine and life changes.One story centers around preparing roast duck on an annual outing devoted solely to excess.
Many of Chatham's painted works have adorned the covers of Harrison's works.
Russ is an accomplished fly fisherman and author of fishing related histories, articles and books, having been feted by the Northern California Council Federation of Fly Fishermen by including him in their Hall of Fame. His works of non fiction include The Angler's Coast, and Striped Bass on the Fly.