Mark Grotjahn has quickly gained prominence for his nature-based works of art, with powerful references to the beauty of nature and the nature of movement. He is perhaps best known for his butterfly motifs, a theme he has used again and again throughout his long and successful career.
Mark Grotjahn is well known for his evocative Butterfly series, a series of artworks that focus on the investigation of perspectives and experiment with a number of techniques, including multiple vanishing points to create the illusion of depth and trick the eye into perceiving three dimensions on the two dimensional surface of a painting.
Mark Grotjahn has also widely experimented with a number of other techniques, including skewed angles, tonal colors and complex compositions. These visual experiments have earned Mark Grotjahn a powerful reputation as a Modernist artist, and gained him many fans among collectors, art critics and ordinary fans.
The works of Mark Grotjahn have been compared favorably to many of his contemporaries, and he has enjoyed a reputation for elegant painting, evocative techniques and beautiful designs throughout the years. Even the apparent imperfections in Mark Grotjahn's works have become legendary, and his paintings often include markings, scuffs and other visual anomalies.
Born in 1968 in Pasadena, California, Mark Grotjahn was schooled at the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned his MFA. He had previously attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and earned his BFA there. While he currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California, Mark Grotjahn has enjoyed great success throughout the United States and around the world, and his work is on display in some of the most prestigious museums worldwide.
Viewers can see the works of Mark Grotjahn at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, and at the Guggenheim Museum as well. The Whitney Museum of American Art also proudly displays works by Mark Grotjahn, as does the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in his adopted home of Los Angeles, California.
Mark Grotjahn was born in Pasadena, California, but he grew up in the Bay Area. He was the son of a psychiatrist father who had earlier emigrated from Berlin, Germany.
After his formal education had ended, Mark Grotjahn spent years honing and perfecting his art, and by 1995 he was serving as the artist-in-residence for the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Madison, Maine. A year later, he moved to Los Angeles, where he still resides.
Upon coming to Los Angeles, Mark Grotjahn opened an art gallery known as Room 702. Located in Hollywood, the Room 702 gallery soon begun showcasing the work of local artists. Although the Room 702 gallery was open for just two years, it developed quite a reputation among the artistic community and helped to cement Mark Grotjahn's place in the West Coast art world.
In addition to his work as a painter, Mark Grotjahn is also well known for his complex drawings. Some of the most notable were colored pencil drawings, many of which were displayed during the mid-1990s. Following the success of those colored pencil drawings, Mark Grotjahn continued to experiment with painting, including complex investigations of perspective and viewer experience.
During these explorations of viewpoints and vanishing points, Mark Grotjahn often drew inspiration from road signs and advertising displays on storefronts. His home in Los Angeles proved to be a rich source of inspiration, with plenty of advertising to explore and play with.
Even as he moved on to painting and other forms of artistic expression, Mark Grotjahn continued to work with colored pencil drawings. Eventually these drawings would morph into so-called "perspective drawings", and later into paintings that used the same kinds of unique views and vanishing points.
Some of these early works were aided by complex mats and other techniques, while others were designed to stand on their own. By that time, Mark Grotjahn had gained a strong reputation as a visual artist, with a style all his own and a growing number of fans and collectors.
It has often been said that great artists help us see the world in new ways, and Mark Grotjahn certainly fits that description. Through his many decades in the art world, Mark Grotjahn has created works that challenge the perception of the viewer, play with their ideas of space and time and delight with their colorful explorations of light, shadow, color and natural landscape elements.
Untitled (Crimson Red and Canary Yellow Butterfly 45.93), 2015-2016
colored pencil on paper
84 x 47 3/4 inches
Untitled (Yellow White Face Cut Out Eyes Green Iris II 41.14), 2010
oil on cardboard mounted on canvas
48 3/8 x 37 inches
Untitled (Standard Lotus No. II, Bird of Paradise, Tiger Mouth Face 44.01), 2012
oil on cardboard mounted on canvas
73 x 53¾ inches