C. Ronald Bechtle

Life Dates

C. Ronald Bechtle helped found the artist collective called the Philadelphia Abstract Artists, which focused on internal critiques of artwork and exhibiting. He was director of the group from 1957 to 1962 and participated in all its exhibitions through 1969. He was previously a member of the collective, Group '55, but he became dissatisfied with the organization of the group.

After serving in the Army, Bechtle studied painting briefly at Eastern Tennessee University and then in Philadelphia at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, and the Philadelphia Museum of School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts), as well as with Benton Spruance. Though he worked as an industrial engineer, cost estimator, and design consultant for the Philco Corporation, he devoted hours every day to art, moving from dark, figurative early paintings to abstract compositions around 1950. In the 1960s he began focusing on watercolor, exploring materials and chance effects. He was also constantly sketching.

Bechtle’s work is in the collections of a number of universities and museums, among them the Akron Art Museum; Amherst College, Massachusetts; Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine; Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Denver Art Museum; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California; and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

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