Thomas Nygard Gallery - 19th and 20th Century American Art


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William Acheff, known primarily for his trompe l’oeil oil paintings of Indian artifacts, was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1947 and has been living in Taos, New Mexico since 1973.


“I paint Indian objects,” he says, “because I relate to them, maybe because I have some Indian blood and because I was close to my grandmother, but that’s not the point. It’s the ethnic quality of the artifacts. There’s a purity in them. Nothing’s manufactured by machine. There sits a pot. The whole mood of what went into making that pot is a story, and that’s what I want to capture.


He moved with his family to San Francisco when he was only five, and lived in the Bay Area for twenty years.   He didn’t begin painting actively until 1969 when, working as a barber, he came in contact with Roberto Lupetti, an Italian artist. He took art lessons from him and received much direction including marketing help with gallery representation in northern California.

Acheff’s art training began when taking numerous art classes in high school for the simple reason that he enjoyed art.  In 1965, he went to barber college in San Francisco where he met Lupetti and started taking art lessons from him just for enjoyment. After a month or so, Lupetti decided to train Acheff on a more serious level because the accomplished artist believed his student possessed the receptiveness and ability that he was looking for in an apprentice.

At first he worked from photographs but changed his technique to working from the objects themselves. He positions his subjects several feet from his easel and paints them in the north light of his studio. In Taos he credits artist Robert Daughters as also being very helpful towards his success.

(b. 1947)

133 East Main Street

Bozeman, Montana 59715

 phone: 406.586.3636