American realist painter John Register was born 1939 in New York City, NY and died in 1996 in Malibu, CA. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with BA in Literature, in 1961.... Living in New York... John pursued a career in advertising. In 1972 [ on his 33rd birthday] he famously stood up from a big client meeting and announced he had "a dentist appointment " never to return to advertising. It was from that moment on that he dedicated himself to painting as a full-time career and passion. Driving across the country in a 1966 Volvo with two cats and a Doberman, he and his family camped along the way. John photographed the cities they passed through. He said, "I look for offbeat beauty. I don't know what I'm looking for until I find it. There are things so ugly that I can't paint them. Sometimes I get depressed by cities I visit. But I like the patina of things that have been battered by life." His vision of isolated streets, empty coffee shops, long shadows, old hotels, and bus stations "represent a haunting stillness tinged with regret and hope", wrote Barnaby Conrad in John Register Persistent Observer.

Register was born with a genetic kidney disease that he battled heroically until his death in 1996 at the tragically young age of 57. In many of hiss paintings, one can feel the loneliness of man's existence; especially in the face of sickness and an imminent death.

He was honored with a retrospective in 1999.

Register's work was used, and credited, as the inspiration for the video for Turn My Head by the band Live in 1997.

His work was also featured movie In Her Shoes (2005).

Critics have noted that his style is reminiscent of Edward Hopper. However, Register feels that there are differences between himself and Hopper, “With Hopper you witness someone else’s isolation; in my pictures, I think you, the viewer, become the isolated one.”
change photo
remove photo

First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


Related Artists

+ add artist