Christopher Campbell received his B.A. at Yale University in 1979, and studied with Ansel Adams in Yosemite in 1981. After completing his M.A. in art history at Brown University, Campbell received a Fulbright dissertation grant to France where he explored the artistic relationship between Cézanne and Pissarro. In 1990, he met Joan Mitchell in Paris. The encounter was transformative. Campbell shifted his focus from art history to painting, and moved to Vétheuil, France, where he lived and worked with Mitchell.
Returning to the United States in 1992 after Mitchell’s death, Campbell began the studio practice now drawing international attention. He has also taught art history, as well as painting, at the College of the Holy Cross, the University of Michigan, and the Pennsylvania State University. Campbell is often in demand as a consultant and a lecturer on color and fine art reproduction, and his paintings are increasingly sought after on the Asian art market. His work has been exhibited in China, Ireland, Spain, and the United States, including New York.
Campbell is represented by Nataliya Pissarro Fine Art LLC, New York, and Classic Gallery, Shanghai. He lives and works in central Pennsylvania with his spouse, Nancy Locke, a professor of art history at the Pennsylvania State University.
When gathering source material for his paintings, Campbell often immerses himself in nature, working outdoors in all seasons and weather. There, he finds endlessly surprising structural configurations and chords of color. He frequently makes drawings and paintings on site, taking advantage of natural light. He also uses high-resolution digital cameras as a supplement to observation, harvesting color and form for later study in a manner analogous to musical sampling.
While Campbell usually works on linen canvas mounted on aluminum composite panels, for the COVID-19 drawings, he chose to work on a special paper from the Arches paper mill, with a softer, more vulnerable surface. Paper retains the trace of the lightest touch, and its subtle grain sometimes puts the physics of materials unexpectedly on display.
His primary painting tools are a set of thin stainless steel blades that register minute changes in pressure and modulation, as well as a set of long branches, to which he attaches charcoal, pencils or brushes. A variety of resins and painting media allow the artist to create dispersions of oil paint and powdered pigments in layered and micro-thin films that frequently possess a subtle luminosity.