American 1939 -
A painter, lithographer, and writer of the American West, Russell Chatham has had several hundred exhibitions of his paintings and prints and is "considered one of the world's foremost lithographers" (27). He has written numerous essays and short stories on hunting, fishing and conservation as well as on food and wine and has had his work published in Sports Illustrated, Esquire, The Atlantic and Outdoor Life.
Based in Livingston, Montana, he settled there in 1972, and operates a literary press, a gallery, and a company that produces catalogs, prints and posters. He also spends much time fly fishing.
Chatham's paintings focus on the landscape of his surroundings and include Missouri River headwater scenes and Yellowstone National Park. He is fascinated by changing seasons and changing light and the silent, spiritual aspects of landscape. Of his work, he says: "Creating art is an attempt to search for something beyond ourselves". (29).
In 1990, he began a commission of twelve large-size paintings that are odes to the Montana seasons for the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. The main image is titled The Seasons: The Headwaters of the Missouri River in April and is fourteen by ten feet and based on extensive trips to study the river from various vantage points.
Chatham was raised in Carmel Valley, California, and there developed a love for the landscape. An inspiration for his painting was his grandfather, Gottardo Piazzoni, one of the foremost California painters in the early 20th century. Chatham inherited and uses his painting tools, easel and sketch box.
As an artist, Chatham is mostly self-taught with a stated intent of remaining distanced from the contemporary art world. He is not prolific and sometimes finishes only six or seven large paintings a year.
Donald J. Hagerty, Leading the West