Gary Erbe • American: B: 1944
Vanity and Time • Oil on Canvas 30” x 40”
At age 21, Gary Erbe didn’t know enough about art to know he wasn’t an artist . After only three months of self-instruction, he quit his $10 a day job as a construction laborer and set out to become a great artist. Three months later the money ran out and Erbe found himself asking for his old job back. This was perhaps the most predictable thing that ever happened in Erbe’s life.
Who would’ve predicted a 16 year old high school dropout, abandoned by his mother would someday have his work featured in leading art galleries and museums. In 1960 he was unwanted, uneducated, unnoticed, and indefatigable.
He began teaching himself to paint. Not in a paint-by-numbers sort of way, but rather by carefully looking at famous paintings and trying to figure out how to create great art. He was taken with the Trompe L’Oeil (fool the eye) artists of the late 19th century. Building on their hyper-realistic vision he developed his own style, naming it Levitational Realism because objects seemed to float over abstract backgrounds.
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