The Artists

Gary T. Erbe

Gary T. Erbe, a self-taught painter was born in 1944 in Union City, New Jersey where he maintained his studio from 1972-2006.

Unable to attend art school, he worked as an engraver from 1965-1970 to support himself and family, painting at nights and weekends to develop his skills. In 1967, Erbe discovered Trompe l’oeil painting and its masters. It was then that he recognized his particular place. In 1969, Erbe conceived a way of creating paintings that would be more contemporary and a departure from the 19th Century Trompe l’oeil masters. By freeing objects from their natural surroundings via the illusion of levitation and through the juxtaposition of objects that in reality had no relationship, he could create thought provoking paintings. In the same year, Erbe coined the term “Levitational Realism”. In 1970, Erbe decided to pursue his art full time and began to actively exhibit his work.

Erbe has exhibited extensively since 1970 with solo exhibitions at Museums and galleries throughout America, Asia and Europe. Erbe has been invited into many important exhibitions in America and abroad including “Outward Bound – American Art on the Brink of the 21st Century” that was organized by Meridian International Center in Washington, DC, which traveled throughout the Far East. His work was also represented in “American Realism”, which opened September 2012 at The Beijing World Museum in China and traveled to five Museums in China for over a year and half.  Erbe has also garnered many awards and honors over the years including an unprecedented 6 Gold Medals at The Allied Artists of America, Inc. Annual Exhibitions held at The National Arts Club, NYC. He also received the Medal for Lifetime Achievement in American Art from The Butler Institute of American Art, OH and the Salmagundi Club Medal of Honor, NYC. He also received the Gold Medal from The National Museum of Sports, IN; First Prize Award from The National Arts Club, NYC and Gold Medal of Honor from Audubon Artists, NYC, among others.

Erbe’s work combines flat space forms that are exaggerated and enhanced by shadow, light and color. The result is pure three-dimensional illusion. While there are and will always be elements of Trompe l’oeil in his work, he has less of an interest in fooling the eye in favor of stimulating the mind.

Erbe was  honored with a 25 year traveling retrospective in 1995 and a 40-year traveling retrospective in 2010 and currently, Erbe maintains his studio in Nutley, NJ.  He continues to actively paint and exhibit.

To learn more about Erbe and his work, visit:


2013 Work

Annie Oakley: Little Sure Shot

White Plus Blue Makes Red