Tom Christopher

Last updated
Tom Christopher
Tom In His Studio.jpg
Christopher in his studio
Born1952 (age 7071)
Education Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California
Known forPainting

Tom Christopher (born 1952 [1] ) is an American painter known for his expressionist urban paintings and murals, mostly of New York City. Christopher began as a commercial artist, and has become internationally recognized with galleries and exhibitions in France, Germany and Japan. [2]


Life and art

Christopher sketching on the streets of New York TomSketching.jpg
Christopher sketching on the streets of New York

Early life and work

Christopher was born in Hollywood, California. He initially studied at the Pasadena Museum of California Art in 1974. He then went Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to receive his Bachelor in Fine Arts in 1979 where he studied with the noted California artists Lorser Feitelson and Ward Kimball. He supported himself during school by doing drawings at Disney in Anaheim. [3] Christopher grew up "in the LA hot rod / skateboard culture" which influenced his art. [4] Christopher started his art career with commercial art in California. His first work was for CBS Records. [5] He received a gold record for his work on promotional posters. He also worked for Motor Trend magazine. In 1981 he moved to New York City, and worked for the New York Times, People, Fortune and Wall Street Journal, as well as a courtroom artist for CBS news, covering trials as diverse as John Lennon's shooter and "The Diet Doc Killer" Jean Harris. [6]

Transition to fine art

Christopher began creating fine art in the mid 80's painting household objects and tools on a "Brobdingnagian scale" in addition to making cast-iron sculptures, which were featured "in galleries in the East Village". [4] These works were most notably featured in Socrates Sculpture Park, Oil and Steel Gallery (L.I.C. NY 1992) [7] and the "Tools as Art: The Hechinger Collection" at National Building Museum Washington D.C. (1990s). [8]

Transition to current style

The early 1990s also marked the start of Tom Christopher's signature NYC paintings. The first gallery to feature this was the Saint Marks Gallery in 1990. [2] After receiving more success and reception with this style, he slowly switched to primarily this style in the 90's, and "Now his subject matter is largely focused on the streets of New York." [9]

Christopher’s work is shown internationally in Europe and Japan. [10] He currently works out of his studio, Lift Trucks Project in North Salem, New York. Most paintings are exhibited overseas to international art fairs and galleries in Frankfurt, Paris, Osaka and Tokyo. [11]


A Mural for the Katonah Museum of Art

Tom Christopher collaborated with 13 art students to create a mural for the Katonah Museum to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Christopher  summed it up this way: “This project was to create a mural expressing the dreams of 13 artists at age 40. Where do they see themselves at that age? Distill this thought to a single object that would express the thought or something they might carry with them into the future. We will paint that image over an expressionistic background in the lobby of the museum.” [12] [13] [14]

Virtual reality fine art installations

Partnering with the Fashion Institute of Technology's Department of Fine Art Media Laboratory, Tom Christopher and students from FIT will create three Bronx-specific VR experiences for the Montefiore Medical Center. Patients will experience the environment seeking to diminish anxiety, pain and opioid addiction through stimulus-rich, curated artistic environments. The FIT Exhibition: The Future Is Immersive [15] has featured some of Tom Christopher's work.

The first of three projects is a virtual city block, made up of elements from different streets to create a "virtual" city block typical of the South Bronx. Christopher and students sketched on site and took photographs which were used to make preliminary drawings before translating via Tilt Brush into a virtual 3D canvas. "The process allows you to blow it up to the size of a billboard, or shrink it to the size of an ant. Walk through or around or hover from above.

Paseo Caribe Mural Project

In 2016 Tom Christopher collaborated with art students from Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño to create a 4,000 square feet (370 m2) public space mural. Originally in the El Mercado public square, [16] these murals are in the process of being transferred to the Luis Munoz International Airport, San Juan. [17]

Brill Building

In the summer of 2014, Tom Christopher and Oscar Andy Hammerstein took a studio residence in the Brill Building windows during its renovations. The art project was conducted as an installation and an inside look into the artistic process. The subject matter was Times Square and the streets of New York City. [18]


Christopher has been experimenting with collage-style paintings and silkscreens that utilize multiple images and layers with Master Printer Gary Lichtenstein. [19] They had a show together at Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut entitled "35 Years of Screenprinting". [20]

Lift Trucks Project

In 2010 Christopher founded Lift Trucks Project in Croton Falls, New York. It is an alternative art space with exhibitions featuring works from FA-Q, Christo, Ottmar Hoerl, Ed Roth ("Big Daddy"), A. R. Penck, Sailor Jerry, and others. [21]


Christopher is known for his New York City urban paintings. Most of the work is painted using small-batch, handmade acrylic paint. Pencil lines from the initial exploratory sketch stage often remain on the white canvass. His typical images include cabbies, delivery men, skylines, and chaotic New York City scenes. His work is usually done with acrylic paint in an expressionist style.

Critical reception

Christopher is most notable in the New York City art scene, with mostly positive reviews from sources such as The New York Times . One article features a quote by former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who stated "Tom has an uncanny talent for capturing the essence of New York City from the perspective of those who have enjoyed the sights of the city on foot." [9]

He has also received acclaim through his museum exhibitions: he was included in the 1999 "New, New York Views" exhibition at Museum of the City of New York, [22] and recently had a "Metropolis" exhibition at Butler Institute of American Art. [23] The Butler Institute of American Art Director and Chief Curator Dr. Louis A. Zona stated that Christopher "...has bridged the gap between pure narrative painting and expressionist abstraction. He has become to American painting what Count Basie or Duke Ellington became to American popular music, not completely jazz but certainly owing much to Charlie Parker and Charlie Mingus." [24]

Commercial applications

Ikepod Watch has started a Tom Christopher Art Series to compliment past collaborations with artists Jeff Koons and pop arts KAWS. Tom Christopher and watchmaker Ikepod have collaborated on new models featuring Christopher's work [25] on the watch face by designer Marc Newson. A clothing line by Illusions was introduced in 2020. In 2019 Christopher's studio and flash art collection was featured [26] on American Pickers. Christopher has done work on a line of clothing with Urban Outfitters and Nordstroms entitled "Threads4Thought". [27] He also was commissioned by Michel Roux for the "Absolut Collection" for Absolut Vodka and was included in the "Absolut Book" by Richard Lewis. Christopher has also designed a "Cruzer" line of snowboards for Burton Snowboards. In addition, he was commissioned to paint an oversized baseball for the New York Yankees for their 2000 game against the Atlanta Braves. [11]

Tom Christopher, I Like New York Because Everything Interesting Can Be Found There, 2012, The NYU Langone Medical Center Art Collection Tom Christopher NYU Decal Installation October 2012.jpg
Tom Christopher,I Like New York Because Everything Interesting Can Be Found There,2012, The NYU Langone Medical Center Art Collection


Selected solo exhibitions [2]

Selected group exhibitions [2]

Selected public installations [2]

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