TOM CHRISTOPHER BIOGRAPHY
"Monet had his water lilies and Tom Christopher has Times Square." --The New Yorker
Tom Christopher is a classically trained draughtsman. He received a BFA from the Art Center College in Los Angeles, studying with the legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball and the painter Lorser Fietelson. He then worked for Peterson Publishing drawing automobiles for Motor Trend Magazine, drawing portraits at Disneyland and creating rock posters for CBS Records.
After moving to New York in 1981 he went on drawing assignments with Meredith Vieira and John Stossel covering courtroom drama for CBS News in downtown Manhattan. This experience in part formed the foundation for a narrative and journalistic approach to his art.
Although born in Hollywood, and steeped in the LA hot rod / skateboard culture, he became obsessed with painting household objects and tools on a Brobdingnagian scale, exhibiting in galleries in the East Village. He would always carry a sketchbook, endlessly drawing and recording everything from subways to skyscrapers.
In 1987, NYC was a dark city, crime ridden and gripped by fear. But, as he put it: "One day walking around Times Square, the clouds cleared and I had an epiphany of sorts. The City exploded in a blaze of expressionistic colors with the brilliant laser white light sculpting the buildings, cabs, messengers and scurrying figures. At once I realized my mission; try and capture the narrative, the beauty and the magnetic pull of the epicenter of this modern urban city."
Now his subject matter is largely focused on the streets of New York. But calling him a New York painter would be as much a mistake as it would be to dismiss Kirchner as a Berlin cityscene painter. They have both used the subject of the city as a launching pad to explore the many aspects of man’s struggle in an urban environment. Indeed, this theme is universal as his paintings have found a following in Europe, especially Paris, Germany and Tokyo.
Most of the work is painted using small batch, handmade acrylic paint. Pencil lines from the initial exploratory sketch stage often remain on the white canvass. These raw areas give the painting both breathing room and serve as a reminder of the process. His artistic vocabulary ranges from lines that loop and skit around, to delicate watercolor washes, heavy brushwork to thick impasto with swirls and drips of color.
Working with 'at risk' kids he brought these expressionistic colors and large brushwork to the Roseland Ballroom on 53rd St creating the city’s largest outdoor mural at 225 by 65 ft.
"I think it’s interesting to tell a story about people in the city and not necessarily be concerned about what the finished product will look like. The last thing an artist should do is to set out to try and make 'art'. I find that if you have something to say, just paint, most of the time it will find it’s own way." Says Mr. Christopher.
He was trained in an approach that relies on visual observation and blocking out all else. Actually, he was trained to not listen as it would become too distracting. This is now changing in new works with overheard conversations and fragments of speech finding their way into the artwork as titles of the paintings create a continually evolving narrative thread.
"Tom Christopher has become to American painting what Count Basie or Duke Ellington became to American popular music, not completely jazz but owning much to Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus."
Dr. Louis Zona, Director and Chief Curator, The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown Ohio
TOM CHRISTOPHER CURRICULUM VITAE
1952 Tom Christopher born in Hollywood, California
1974 Studies at the Pasadena Museum of Art, Pasadena, California, USA
1976 Studies Painting at the Sonoma State University, California, USA
1978 Works at Disney in Anaheim, California, USA
1979 Tom receives his Bachelor in Fine Arts (BFA) from the Art Center College, Pasadena, California. Receives gold Record From CBS Records for artwork.
1980 Works at NBC Studios in Burbank, California, USA. Exhibit design for Walter Hopps at the California Museum of Science and Industry, drawings for Peterson Publishing, worked with William Claxton-Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazines-Editorial drawings for LA Times.
1981 Moves to New York City
1982 Works for: New York Times, People, Fortune and Wall Street Journal as well as courtroom artist for CBS Network News.
1983 Tom Christopher writes essays about Computer-art for PC Magazine, and writes a book "MacArt Department" (published by Simon & Schuster)
1984 Paintings for ABC TV, the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Jazz series for Polygram Records. Public TV painting for JFK - A One Man Show.
1985 Reportage drawings for the Grand Prix of Las Vegas. Reportage art for St. Elisabeth's Hospital, Washington DC. Travels for with Soviet Red Army for NHL.
1986-1997 Paintings for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Thorn EMI, Atlantic Monthly, Bertelsmann Music Group,
1988 Socrates Sculpture Park, L.I.C., Sculptors Working
1993 Teaches at the Parsons School of Design, New York, USA.
1995 Mural commissioned by the News Corp, Rockefeller Center, New York, USA. Absolut Christopher (print ad)
1997 White Male Rage curated by Charlie Finch, East Village NY
1998 Paints The Roseland Mural (70 x 8 m) at Times Square, New York, USA
1999 Tom takes part at the exhibition "New, New York Views" at the Museum of the City of New York, USA
2000 Wassermann Galerie, Munich Germany--Streets of New York
2002 Designs a snowboard collection for Burton and creates the cover for the official City Guide of New York.
2004 Mural for Dassault Falcon Jet, USA. Participates in exhibits: Kunsthalle Trier and Kunsthalle Darmstadt in Germany
2005 Times Square Project , installation at The Lab Gallery and the Times Square Information Center, New York, USA.
2006 Print exhibit with Lichtenstein,Warhol and Ken Price: Ward Pound Ridge, Pound Ridge, NY
2007 "Metropolis" installation at the Conde Nast Building , NYC PerCent for Art Program
2008 The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio. J.N. Bartfield Gallery, 30 West 57th St. NYC
2008 Participates in "Project Runway" and a works on a clothing line for Urban Outfitters and Nordstroms.
2009 "New York is Noir Again" series of black and white paintings for Galerie Tamenaga, Paris, and Galerie Barbara von Stechow, Frankfurt
2010 One of the founders of Lift Trucks Project; an alternative art space in New York.
Art of the Print: Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield,CT
2102 Galerie Barbara von Stechow, Germany, New Works
2013 Greg Hubert Gallery, Madison Ave, NYC, City Abstracted
Selected Solo Exhibitions
Galerie Barbara von Stechow, Frankfurt: 1999, 2002, 2004,2007,2009
Galerie Vomel, Dusseldorf: 2004, 2006, 2010
HSBC, Trinkaus and Burkhardt, Frankfurt: 2007, Hamburg: 2008
Van Brunt Gallery, Beacon, NY 2007
Galerie Tamenaga, Tokyo, Osaka: 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2007,2010
Galerie Tamenaga, Paris: 1999, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2009,2011
Michael Owen Gallery, New York: 1996
David Findlay Galleries, New York: 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2005
J.N. Bartfield Gallery New York: 2008
Conde Nast Building, NYC Per Cent for Art Commission, 2007
The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown Ohio, May 2008
Tamenaga Gallery, New York: 1993, 1994
St. Marks Gallery New York 1990
Ontario Museum of Art, 1990
Eastmann Wahmendorf Gallery, Helio Gallery, New York 1990
Selected Group Exhibitions
35 years of Printmaking, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, CT 2010
Galerie Mada Primavesi, Madrid: 2007
Molly Barnes Collection: East Coast-West Coast, The Lab Gallery, NYC 2007
“PRINT- Andy Warhol, Ken Price, Tom Christopher” - Ward Pound Ridge, New York 2006
FIAC, Paris 2005
“At the Crossroads of Desire" The AXA Gallery, New York: 2004
“New Views: Modern NY Cityscapes” The New York Historical Society Museum: 2004
“Hessische Landesvertretung” Berlin: 2004
“Kunstakademie, Kunsthalle Trier, Germany”: 2002
“City Rhythms” Pelham Art Center, Pelham, NY: 2002
“Art for America” Benefit: Twin Towers Fund, New York: 2002
Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Germany: 2001
Art Cologne, Germany, 2000
“New, New York Views” Museum of the City of New York, New York: 1999
“Modern Times” Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah: 1993
“Cityscapes” The Roger Smith Gallery, New York: 1993
“Kustom Kulture” The Works Gallery, Los Angeles: 1993
Socrates Sculpture Park, Oil and Steel Gallery L.I.C. NY 1992
“Tools” San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco: 1988
East Village Artists, Tokyo, Japan: 1985
The Clocktower Center for Art & Urban Resources, New York: 1980
Interview from Ontario Museum of Art, California
Allied Irish Bank,PLC
Andreas Krone, Gmbh, Germany
Art in Embassy Program, Malawi and Mauritania Africa
Bertelsmann, A.G., New York
Burda Group, New York
The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Mrs. Laura Bush
CBS Inc., New York
Chelsea Murals, London Terrace Gardens, New York
Mr. Lee Child, NY
Conde Nast, NY
Dassault Falcon Jet, USA
Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt, Germany
Jean-Louis David, Switzerland
Eli Lilly Corporation, Illinois
Fondation Colas, Paris
The Ford Motor Corporation, Detroit
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, NY
Goldman Sachs & Co., New York
Guinness, p.l.c., United Kingdom
The Hearst Corporation, New York
The Hechinger Collection, National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.
Heineken, The Netherlands
Indianapolis Ballet and Opera Association, Indiana
The Office of the Mayor, New York
Meeschaert Gastion Privée
Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA
Mrs. Joe Ellen Powell, American Consul General, Germany
MTA Arts in Transit program, NYC
The Museum of the City of New York, New York
New York Historical Society Museum, NY
The New York Times, Inc., New York
NewsCorp Murals, Rockefeller Center, New York
Pfizer, New York
Playwrights Horizons, Times Square, NYC
Mr. Stephen Schwartz
Schwartz Pharma, Monheim
Thorn Emi, UK
Time Warner Inc., New York
Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Philadelphia, PA
Vin och Sprithistoriska Museum, Stockholm
Wallrich Asset Management AG
Selected Public Installations
2006, 2007 - Times Square Project, Times Square, New York
2004 – The New-York Historical Society Museum, installation of chair, easel, and painting
1998 – MTA, “Art in Transit” Subway Art Series, New York
1997 – Roseland Mural, 30’ x 230’, New York
1992 – Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, New York
“HammerBrush” bronze, dm various
“Mason’s Trowel” automotive enamel, 20’ x 65’
"Floating I Beam" automotive enamel,130'x 35'
2012 - The NYU Langone Medical Center Art Collection
I Like New York Because Everything Interesting Can Be Found There
Midday Times Square; people laughed and told jokes. They rode in bright yellow cabs as bike messengers rushed by. Cel callers told intimate secrets as they walked down Broadway. A white pigeon lit on a green traffic light. I was late but stopped for coffee and donuts at a cart. Suddenly I knew that everything was going to be ok and that just about anything was possible