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Baseball Album

"Baseball Album"
48" x 68"
Oil on Canvas

The Butler Institute of American Art
Commissions Gary Erbe's
"Baseball Album" Trompe l'Oeil Painting

It seems fitting that the first structure in the United States built
specifically to house a collection of American art should now pay tribute to baseball, America's favorite pastime.

The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, has just received "Baseball Album," the 48" x 68" trompe l'oeil oil painting it commissioned from Gary Erbe.

Baseball Album DetailThe painting will be on permanent display in the Butler's Lester Donnell Sports Gallery, a short walk from the most famous trompe l'oeil painting in America, William Harnett's 1884 "After the Hunt."

According to museum's director, Dr. Louis A. Zona, "Gary Erbe has been exhibiting artwork here for over 20 years, including two one-man exhibitions in 1985 and 1995. He was the logical choice for creating a large centerpiece for the sports gallery."

It took Erbe 14 months of continuous work on "Baseball Album" to create the lifelike baseball memorabilia spread across the painting's surface. As with all Erbe paintings, no brush strokes or paint drips are evident in this collage-like illusion.

Baseball Album Detail"I wanted to re-create the icons of the golden age of baseball, " Erbe explains. Included in his painted array are baseball uniforms, a 1952 Pirates souvenir, magazine covers and even an illusion of a three-dimensional Kellogg's Corn Flakes box with a baseball champion on the front.

"I started by spending a considerable amount of time collecting the artifacts and researching the memorabilia at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York," adds. He then created a full-size collage mock-up for Dr. Zona's approval. Drawings and detailed painting took another year to complete on the over-five-foot-long canvas.

Baseball Album DetailErbe's unique collage-style form of trompe l'oeil painting was created in 1969 when he introduced "Levitational Realism" in the NYC art market. Since then, he's been a staple of museum exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Erbe has been serving as the president of the Allied Artists of America since 1994. He also devotes his spare time to educating the public on the trompe l'oeil art form through his involvement with the Trompe l'Oeil Society of Artists.

Baseball Album Detail"When I create a new painting, I try to do something very different from my previous works," Erbe says. "There lies the greatest challenge -- going beyond traditional trompe l'oeil to integrate elements of abstraction in my composition in order to create a more dynamic and colorful painting."

Zona adds, "Judging from the reaction of our museum visitors, it's more than a hit. It's a home run."

The Butler Institute of American Art is at 524 Wick Avenue in Youngstown, Ohio. For more information on the sports gallery and the Butler collection, see

Artist at work    Artist at work


Baseball Album Final

"Baseball Album"
Permanent Collection
The Butler Institute of American Art
Youngstown, Ohio