description of Potrero Hill by Robert Bechtle

In this self-portrait, photorealist painter Robert Bechtle sits on a couch under a large window, facing us. The pillowed back and fabric-covered arms of the blue couch stretch across the bottom of the five-and-a-half-foot wide, three-foot tall canvas. Bechtel sits on our left with one elbow on the armrest and the other arm draped across the back of the couch. He has a grey beard, close-cropped hair at the temples of his otherwise bald head, and wears a blue sweater. A pair of glasses rests on his chest, hanging down from a thin cord that loops around the back of his neck. On the other end of the couch, at our lower right, sits a pillow resembling a repurposed potato sack that reads ‘Potero Hill’. Centered above the couch is a window offering views to the neighbourhood street outside. The six square panes at the bottom are unobscured, but the panes near the top of the window are partially covered by thin, white, horizontal blinds. Outside, a steep hill runs from our bottom right toward the upper left. A silver sedan is parked across the street, and a boxy, off-kilter station wagon sits parked behind Bechtel, perpendicular to the hill. The diagonal lines and odd angles of the outside world lie in contrast to those found inside, in the trim of the window panes, the precise blinds, and the back of the couch.

Robert Bechtle, Potrero Hill, 1996
Robert Bechtle, Potrero Hill, 1996; oil on canvas, 36 in. x 66 in. (91.44 cm x 167.64 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Ruth Nash Fund purchase; © Robert Bechtle

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Potrero Hill
Artist name
Robert Bechtle
Date created
oil on canvas
36 in. x 66 in. (91.44 cm x 167.64 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Ruth Nash Fund purchase
© Robert Bechtle
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

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