Richard Haas (b. 1936) is a mural painter of "architecture of illusion," his term describing the trompe l'oeil architectural subjects for which he is best known. His work as a printmaker also focuses on architecture, with iconic buildings of New York and other cities serving as subject matter. Hass is also an educator who has taught painting and printmaking at University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, Bennington College in Vermont, and School of Visual Arts in New York City.
During World War II, the Haas family moved from Spring Green, Wisconsin to Milwaukee. As a teenager, Richard spent two summers working with his great uncle, a master stone mason employed by Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin. He proved to be less interested in stonework than in exploring Wright's library and watching the young architects draw. He considered becoming an architect, but eventually concluded the artistic side of architecture was more attractive than the day to day work of an architect.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (B.S., 1959), Hass worked as an art teacher in a Milwaukee high school. He attended graduate classes at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee where visiting artist Jack Tworkov was his teacher. At the University of Minnesota (M.F.A., 1964), Haas studied with Peter Busa and Malcolm Myers. As an assistant professor at Michigan State University from 1964 to 1968, Haas's colleagues included Angelo Ippolito and Charles Pollock, and he met a number of important artists and critics who visited the campus. Haas moved to New York City in 1968 and soon accepted a part-time position teaching printmaking at Bennington College. He commuted weekly between New York and Vermont for the next decade.
During the 1960s Haas was a Color-field painter. He also continued making etchings and lithographs, and by 1970 several galleries were selling his architectural prints. His first outdoor mural, painted in the So Ho section of New York City in 1975, attracted attention and commissions followed. Mural commissions include: Boston Architectural Center (1977); Edison Bothers Store, Inc., St. Louis (1984); Home Savings of America, multiple locations in Florida and California (1990-1991); City of Huntsville, Texas (1991); Federal Building and Courthouse, Kansas City, Kansas (1994); and Yorkville Mural, New York City (2004.)
Haas, who began exhibiting while still a student, has participated in a large number of group shows and enjoyed many solo exhibitions. He was elected a National Academician, National Academy of Design, was granted a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has been a MacDowell Fellow. Among other honors, Haas has received the American Institute of Architects Medal of Honor, New York City Municipal Art Society Award, Doris C. Freedman Award for Public Art, and the Jimmy Ernst Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Mr. Haas, who works in New York City, is represented by David Findlay, Jr. Gallery. His wife, Katherine Sokolnikoff, is a sculptor and arts administrator; they live in Yonkers, New York.