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  • Charles Miltenberger

Charles Miltenberger: Neat Lines

Artist Interview & Feature

The Mystery, Melancholy and Enigma of a Zombie

Oil on linen

10 x 12"

Angry Zombie Homeowners

Oil on linen

10 x 14"

Zombie News Conference

Oil on linen

12 x 16"

Zombie Noir 1

Oil on linen

12 x 16"

Zombies on a Train

Oil on linen

20 x 26"

Air Zombie

Oil on linen

18 x 24"

Zombie Airport

Oil on linen

18 x 24"

Club Z Shoppers

Oil on linen

18 x 24"

Zombie BBQ

Oil on linen

18 x 24"

Zombie Mall

Oil on linen

24 x 36"

Zombies at the Movies

Oil on linen

18 x 14"


From canvas to canvas, faceless figures and passive crowds abound. Would you say that conformity is a central theme in your work?

Conformity is a large part of it, but we all tend to do a lot of the same things - order pizza, stand in lines, shop.

What drew you to social satire?

There seemed to be nothing resembling social satire in art with the possible exceptions of some Pop art and Photo Realist painting. I'm thinking of artists like Richard Hamilton, Warhol, Ralph Goings and Robert Bechtle. Perhaps none of them see their work as satirical but I can't help but see it that way. They tend to show the somewhat laughable power of an image or things we encounter or do on a daily basis.

Do you identify with the urban solitude in Hopper’s paintings?

Yes, always have. Hopper is one of the greatest artists America has produced along with Thomas Eakins, Edwin Dickinson and Fairfield Porter.

In your biography you write that from 1975 to 1979, you lived in New York. How did the city’s art scene influence you, if at all?

NYC was where I really grew and developed as an artist. Who could not? I was like a sponge soaking it all up. Great art was on view in all the great museums and galleries there. The Art Students League, where I was studying, was a big part of that scene too, as so many of its alumni were either on display in the museums or in the galleries.

Your anonymous individuals appear to have much in common with certain paintings from Picasso’s Blue Period, particularly those he produced following the death of Casagemas. Would you consider Picasso one of your artistic mentors?

Picasso had an influence but I can't limit it to just him. Being in a cultural environment like NYC where all types of art were available to view, I could choose from many points of view. I made many trips up to the Metropolitan Museum's Drawing Department to view their collection of Master Drawings. I could see the paintings in their galleries but the drawings interested me more. I never studied painting at the League but there were several painters who taught there whose work I liked and had an influence on me. Isaac Soyer, David Leffel, Daniel Greene the pastelist and Hughie Lee Smith - I learned something from all of them.

Do you feel that your work has a message to impart?

I try not to be preachy or pedantic. I put the Zombies in situations and let the viewer choose how to react. Some find them funny, some not so.

The connection between art and politics is a contentious subject. What are your views?

I really don't think that there has been much art that has influenced politics at all with the possible exception of Picasso's Guernica. Some of the Zombies are political and I based them on actual political happenings. Whether it's good or bad I don't know.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects?

No, I don't have any upcoming exhibitions. As far as projects are concerned, I plan to do what I've been doing: painting people I know, people I don't know and the occasional Zombie.

About Charles Miltenberger:

Charles Miltenberger was born in Hollywood California on November 21, 1950. Grew up in Pacific Palisades, California a suburb of Los Angeles. Graduated high school in 1968 and graduated from California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in 1972. Started at the Art Students League of New York in February 1975. Studied Life Drawing and Artistic Anatomy with Robert Beverly Hale and Gustav Rehberger from February 1975 until May 1977. He was on scholarship for two years at the League and left the League after that but continued to live in New York until August 1979. He moved back to Los Angeles and has lived there ever since except for four years living in Santa Cruz California. Since 2003 to the present, he has worked at a major art museum in Pasadena California as control room operator in security.


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