Robert Pearson McChesney Biography

Robert Pearson McChesney




Robert McChesney, painter, printmaker, sculptor, and teacher, was born in Marshall, Missouri on January 16, 1913. He studied at the School of Fine Arts at Washington University in St. Louis between 1931 and 1934 and at the Otis Art Institute between 1936 and 1937. During the winter of 1937, McChesney arrived in San Francisco and found employment on the WPA Art Project. He was assigned the mural project for the Federal Building for the Golden Gate International Exposition which opened in 1939 on Treasure Island. He set-up his studio in Bohemian North Beach in San Francisco. Politically vocal, McChesney joined marches against racial, labor, and governmental injustices and was an organizer for the Labor movement.

During World War II, he joined the Merchant Marine and sailed to various ports in the South Pacific. These exotic cultures had a profound impact on the imagery of his shipboard paintings. After the war, McChesney returned to San Francisco where his first solo show was at the Raymond and Raymond Gallery in 1944. He joined the faculty of the California School of Fine Arts in 1950 and taught serigraphy and life drawing. During this time he lived in Point Richmond were he shared a house with Hassel Smith and Edward Corbett, also faculty members. Finding the climate of the school in flux, McChesney left in 1951 for a year in Mexico, and the following year he relocated to Sonoma County, California.

McChesney had over forty solo exhibitions, including retrospectives at the Fresno Art Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery. He won several awards and his work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Oakland Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Worcester Art Museum, Fresno Art Museum, Nevada Museum, Laguna Art Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His life and art are chronicled in Robert McChesney: An American Painter.

Robert McChesney died on May 10, 2008, in Sonoma County, California.