Human Interest

Solo en Inglès

This audio guide highlights selected works in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection, with commentary by students from PS 33 Chelsea Prep and Whitney Museum educator Melanie Adsit.


Robert Bechtle (b. 1961), ’61 Pontiac, 1968-69. Oil on canvas, 59 3/4 × 84 1/4 in. (151.8 × 214 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Richard and Dorothy Rodgers Fund 70.16 © Robert Bechtle


Narrator: This is a picture of the artist Robert Bechtle’s own family. Maybe your family has posed for a photo recently.  

BUT, unlike your family photos, this one is 5 feet tall and 7 feet across. Bechtle has taken an ordinary moment and immortalized it—making it into a really big painting. The size is extraordinary, even if the situation is not.

Traditionally, artists made portraits where the subjects were posed and all dressed up. But Bechtle has done nearly the opposite: his family is so casual that the little boy in stripes could be about to walk or turn away.

To make his paintings, Bechtle projected snapshots he had taken onto a canvas, traced the outlines, and then looked at the photo to fill in the colors.


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