Michael Theise (b.1959) is an American master of the trompe l’oeil genre. Born in the Bronx and raised in Milford, Connecticut, Theise graduated from the nearby Paier School of Art in Hamden, where he studied under another trompe l’oeil master, Ken Davies. While studying under Davies, Theise experimented with realism, primarily by painting African wildlife with intense attention to detail. His passion segued naturally into trompe l’oeil, as he began using objects of compelling interest in his compositions. Captivated by the new direction of his painting, Theise dedicated himself to the trompe l’oeil tradition.
Today, Theise is recognized nationally for compositions that employ diverse subjects such as American currency, playing cards, game boards, portrait miniatures, and nods to Rembrandt Peale, John Singer Sargeant, and Jackson Pollock to create visual allegories. “People look at trompe thinking it’s been pushed to its limit,” Theise says. “But I’m always looking for ways to take it further.”
Michael Theise has exhibited extensively for the past two decades. The Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme, Connecticut has held four highly successful solo shows since 1992. Theise also exhibited at Vose Galleries and the St. Botolph’s Club, both in Boston. In October 2008, the New Britain Museum of American Art opened Theise’s first major museum exhibition, The Eye Deceived: Paintings by Michael Theise.
Michael Theise continues to produce some of the most innovate, crisp trompe l’oeil work in the United States today. If you see a piece of tape stuck to one of his paintings, don’t pick at it. Just look again.