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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 www.butlerart.com.