Billy Schenck has been known internationally for the past 44 years as one of the originators of the contemporary “Pop” western movement and an American painter who incorporates techniques from Photo-Realism with a Pop Art sensibility to both exalt and poke fun at images of the West.
Like the heroes he idolized in B-Westerns, Schenck might well be called the “Good Badman” of Western American art. Early in his career he became known for appropriating cinematic imagery, which he reproduced in a flattened, reductivist style, where colors are laid side-by-side rather than blended or shadowed.
Drawing upon narrative tensions that have attracted mass audiences to western fiction and movies, Schenck added hot colors, surreal juxtapositions, and stylized patterning to explore clashes between wilderness and civilization, the individual and community, nature and culture, freedom and restriction.
Museum collections include the Mesa Southwest Museum, Mesa AZ, The Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson AZ, The Denver Art Museum, Denver CO, The Autry Museum of Western Heritage, Anaheim, CA, Museum of the Southwest, Midland TX, Albuquerque Fine Arts Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Art. Private collections include the estate of Malcolm Forbes, Steve Forbes, Chris Everett, Elaine Horwitch, Ivan Karp, Stacey Keach, Louis Meisel, Martina Navritalova, Lawrence Rockefeller, the estate of Fritz Scholder and Sylvester Stallone. Works by the artist are held in the corporate collections of American Airlines, I.B.M., Wells Fargo Bank, Hilton Hotels, Sturn Ruger and The National Bank of Switzerland.
“What has remained constant throughout Schenck’s career is his individuality in dealing with the subject matter of the west. Using the artistic formula of classic western film direction and the photographically reliant systems of contemporary art, he has bridged two genres that resonate with the American experience. Rather than standing as an outside observer to the realities and myths of the west, Schenck is a part of the scene, figuratively and literally. From early depictions of cinematic cowboys to real-life cowboys and cowgirls to poetic reveries about the Native American existence in the Southwest, Schenck melds the real with the imagined, autobiography with fantasy.”