William Acheff (b. 1947)

William Acheff

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Born in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1947, William Acheff transformed a hobby into a successful career through his highly realistic still lifes. He moved with his family to San Francisco when he was five years old, and eventually worked as a barber. A chance meeting with Italian artist Roberto Lupetti proved pivotal: Lupetti, who had studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, invited Acheff to attend his drawing class, and thus the course of Acheff’s life was forever changed.

In 1969, Acheff began a six month long intense training course under the private tutelage of Lupetti. He moved into his own studio, still seeing his mentor for advice and criticism, but eventually relocated to Hondo (near Taos), New Mexico. With classical training, Acheff developed a style reminiscent of the seventeenth century Dutch still life painters combined with the Native American articles, such as drums, pottery, and other memorabilia, that he was surrounded by in the Southwest. Meticulous attention to detail, often using the trompe l’oeil technique, in painting items from both past and present instill Acheff’s oil paintings with realism.

Honored twice with the Prix de West award (1989, 2004), Acheff’s work has won both critical acclaim and popular support. His work was featured in the traveling exhibition Covering the West in conjunction with Southwest Art magazine’s 25th-anniversary edition, and he also won the Masters of the American West Purchase Award (1998) from the Autry National Center of the American West. Working in his studio in New Mexico, Acheff continues to paint.

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