"A painting is at its best when you see the soul of the artist and the soul of the subject in one. They both come through and they both become immortalized."
Robert Schoeller's art is timeless. From a very early age, this internationally celebrated artist intuitively recognized and loved the special qualities that make certain pieces of fine art so exceptional--the purity, intensity and emotional content that make a powerful, lasting impact in the viewer--elements that Schoeller later came to recognize in the artworks of classic masters.
Today, Schoeller has emerged as a modern classic in his own right because he has created a unique style that evokes the straight-forward quality and techniques embodied in the works of such figures as Rembrandt, DaVinci, Velasquez, Goya and Titian. However, while reflecting an affinity with these great artists, Schoeller brings something extra to his own works to generate maximum impact on the canvas and inspire the viewer each time they look at them. His aesthetic sensibilities for the use of space and the arrangement of objects in a painting, the dynamics he creates with light and shadow, his appreciation for beauty, and his unique ability to paint more than just what he sees all enable him to create art in a manner that emanates the same elusive quality of the classics, while keeping his own paintings totally original.
Robert Schoeller was born and raised in a small Austrian village on the Danube. At the age of three, he "discovered" art through his mother's accomplished paintings. Attracted by their beauty and colors, he showed an interest in painting on his own and was encouraged to do so. At one point, Schoeller's mother gave him a book with pictures of the world's greatest paintings, which fascinated him. Even at his early age, he was drawn to certain paintings which had a special quality that made them more aesthetic, inspirational, beautiful and exciting--qualities that he feels are lost to a great degree in our time. He constantly studied and copied the images from the book as a child and, although long since lost, his fascination with those images remain and he still considers that book his "bible" of art.
Finishing high school at age 15, Schoeller's talent earned him acceptance into a famous art school in Linz, to pursue university-level instruction in preparation for a career in art. However, he did not care for the focus on modern styles of art and chose instead to create his own paintings and engravings, which combined realism with fantasy. And, he was rewarded at his first school art show when people bought his etchings and paintings as fast as he put them up.
The public demand for his paintings proved to be somewhat awkward for Schoeller when he applied to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1968. He showed up at the interview with only two etchings (which he had to borrow back from clients). And, when the panel learned that he'd sold all his paintings, they praised his work and told him to go and paint on his own because there was nothing they could teach him. But, as he was leaving the interview, he was invited to join a master's class, which he accepted.
After a year, however, Schoeller decided to leave school and see the world. He embarked upon an extended trip that took him to Mexico City, Los Angeles and New York City, where he set up a studio and resided for nearly four years.
Schoeller moved back to Salzburg, Austria, in 1974. He stayed for two years-- painting, staging exhibitions, selling his works and enjoying what proved to be a very idyllic time in his life. Then, on New Year's Day 1976, he moved to Vienna, where he set up a studio, continued painting and began doing exhibitions throughout Europe. During this time, he also began to explore and develop new subjects, including a series of "bird's eye view" paintings of the earth. In these works, which are delightful watercolor expressions of vast space, light, serenity and freedom, he offers viewers a chance to soar above the clouds and catch glimpses of the long progression of life and human civilizations on the planet far below.
As a painter, Schoeller has always been interested in the challenge of expressing the living essence of a human being in its totality and wanted to use the human form more in his art. However, he didn't just want to paint a face, he wanted to be able to depict the emotions, attitudes, character, intentions, moods, etc. behind a face; he wanted to express the spirit of a person as well as their physical appearance. When a communications course gave Schoeller a new-found understanding of and appreciation for the communication processwhich is included in arthe began to use his paintings to make a more direct line from the artist to the public. This, in turn, fueled Schoeller's interest in portraiture as an art form.
Schoeller's interest in oil painting and, more specifically, in portraiture inspired him to research various masters' techniques for using oils and resins to create paintings that would stand the test of time. In libraries and museums, he conducted an exhaustive search into old masters' methods of painting, read ancient recipes and consulted with art restorers to give him a thorough understanding of the medium. As a result, he emerged with innovative new techniques and a refined approach that made his paintings come alive.
It wasn't long before Schoeller's reputation as a portraitist grew. He began getting commissions throughout Europe, painting everyone from government officials to members of the aristocracy, as well as commissions in the United States. In 1986, Schoeller received what might possibly be his most notable commission. He was asked by The White House to paint the official portrait of George Washington to commemorate the Bicentennial Celebration of the U.S. Constitution. Schoeller depicted Washington standing at the table in Independence Hall, handing a quill pen to the viewer. The painting was made into a poster and was used in local celebrations throughout the country, inspiring Americans to symbolically sign their own name to copies of the Constitution as a collective reaffirmation of their American heritage. The project involved exhaustive research, earned critical acclaim and massive exposure for the artist. After that project (in 1989), Schoeller moved to Clearwater, Florida, and since then, his career has been on a spectacular rise.
The demand for his work is such that he has received commissions for portraits for children who not only are not born yet, but not even conceived. However, he's also extended his artistic genius to other realms of visual expression, including architecture, interior design, furniture design, fashion and landscape design. All of these interests have come together as a showcase of his talents in an unusual home/studio/gallery/garden complex that he has designed and is building in an abandoned Ice House in Clearwater, Florida. Inspired by and constructed in the style of a "Venetian palace" from the Renaissance, it features old-world craftsmanship throughout. And, while much of it is finished, Schoeller has more plans for the facility which covers an entire city block.
(Please see the article "Schoeller's Palace"...)
Robert Schoeller's inborn talent and unique sensibility for aesthetic quality have enabled him to make a huge impact in the art world. His paintings not only have that special something he recognized in the fine artworks that inspired him as a child, they also have an extra special something that only Schoeller can provide--a power, beauty and timeless quality that are accessible to all and which continue to enrich the viewer's experience again and again like a favorite song one never tires of. This is the genius of Robert Schoeller. This is what has established him as a modern master.
1965-1969 University of Art - Linz, Austria
1969-1973 Academy of Fine Arts - Vienna, Austria