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Venetian and Natural Landscapes

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Joseph Fuchs

Joseph Fuchs was born in Palo Alto, California, in 1943, and now resides in Los Altos, California. He is a 7th generation Peninsulan.

His formal training began in high school and culminated in 1965 when graduated from San Jose State University in Fine Arts with an emphasis in portrait painting.

Upon graduating he served in Vietnam as a medic. After three years in the Army, he returned to graduate school and earned a teaching credential in art and English. For thirty three years he taught English at Menlo-Atherton High School, Atherton, California. In 2003 he retired from teaching to paint full time.

He has based his work on Venetian scenes, many of which he has visited during his extensive travels. In 1997, he lived for six months in Venice, Italy - an experience that softened, and extended the values of his palette.

Since 1991, he has had many shows and exhibitiions on the Peninsula, in San Francisco, throughout the United States, in Florence and Venice, Italy, and in Asia.

Since the mid-2000s, he has expanded the scope of his subject matter from not only Venetian scenes bnut also to include natural landscapes of sights seen throughout his travels.

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Joseph Fuchs's ouevre essentially reflects five entities: Pulcinella, commedia dell'arte, Giovani Domenico Tiepolo, Venice, and the mask.

Commedia dell'arte is an early form of theater stemming from Roman influences. It became a cohesive, performing unit in the 14th century. Distinct from legitimate theater, commedia dell'arte "lives" in the outdoors on the streets in makeshift theaters. The performers use lazzi, extemporaneous comedic skits, and wear masks and costumes of the typical clowns of the commedia: Pulcinella, Arlecchino, Pantalone, Dottore and Capitano.

Joseph Fuchs's Pulcinella, dressed in white baggy pants and shirt and a tall conical hat, is a playful trickster who revels in lazzi. Here he creates a unique world under his tall hat. He plays, he tricks, he makes the viewer explore the foibles and fortes of life.

Before Joseph Fuchs, Giovani Domenico Tiepolo (1727-1804), son of "the famous" Tiepolo, danced Pulcinella through a series of drawings. Divertimenti was shown at Stanford University Art Museum in 1979. At this exhibit Joseph Fuchs saw and absorbed Pulcinella for the first time.

In 1982 he began his preoccupation with the playful, masked fellow in oils, ink drawings and watercolors in which Pulcinella romps through lazzi, Carnival and all aspects of daily life in the Venice.

Joseph Fuchs employs the mask to represent man's answer to the juggling of life's ironies, for behind a mask one can react honestly to the world without being subjected to the various insecurities 'del'uomo'.

As his style has evolved throughout the years, other influences, including Morandi, Corot, Gauguin, and Bonnard have brought into his work enhanced involvement with color, light and textural planes. 

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Stage Lights.jpg


Joseph Fuchs is carefully creating a world. His world, peopled with Pulcinella, a masked clown from commedia dell'arte, resides in Venice. Each painting of this microcosm reflects some aspect, action or emotion of the real world. Someone asked him once, "Why place a clown in the scene? Why not just paint the cityscapes?" He answered with an observation: "I once bought a bronze replica of the faun that sat in a villa in Pompeii. I placed it in the center of the backyard lawn. With its presence, the garden has become animated. Pulcinella does the same for my Venetian paintings." Fuchs can draw this figure with ease. The stances evolve often as he draws Pulcinella. He refines the figure as the composition progresses, but many figures flow directly from this collective experiences. Training as a portrait painter and years of continuous sketching have given him the skill to produce at will Pulcinella in any pose.

The steps he takes to complete a work consist of a planned progression. The cityscapes evolve from a montage of photographs of Venice. He peoples these scenes from his imagination. He manipulates a series of photographic scenes until they perfectly fit a well thought out narrative idea. This combination results in a unique, dramatic metaphor centered on Pulcinella as the main thrust of the composition. In ink he executes a completed sketch in a book that records all his plans for his sepia watercolors, which set up the values of the composition. He then transfers the image onto linen canvas. He traces over the pencil image in indelible ink and then removes the pencil with turpentine. He starts to paint with the darkest values and evenly works around the canvas. He usually completes the work with the whites of the Pulcinelli. After a period of drying, he seals the canvas with a medium reflective varnish.

Definite rules abide in Fuchs's visual world. The majority of his paintings have figures of Pulcinella in Venice. Pulcinella is the only masked figure who cannot remove his mask, and for this reason Pulcinella represents all that one could or would want to be. The boundaries of Pulcinella's world, therefore, are not finite. His world only knows the limits of the human spirit, a continuum that bounces back and forth between comedy and tragedy, weakness and strength, love and hate. With Pulcinella in his masked state, Fuchs is free to explore all corners of human nature. He has been painting Pulcinella since 1982.

Stylistically, Fuchs concentrates on several aspects. Gestures abound and in many instances direct the eye around the canvas. The contrapostal positions, especially the lines established by Pulcinella's hat, direct the eye around the composition. Fuchs works very attentively with the eye movement, for he is very concerned that the flow of the composition is smooth. He fastidiously applies paint. In many instances each paint stroke is a different color. Usually he paints with a brush one-fourth inch wide. He applies paint by several methods: glazing, layering of partially opaque color and painting color side-by-side.

In recent year, Fuchs's stylistic techniques have progressed to enchance his earlier application of paint in several ways. He has expanded his pallette to an expansive use of green for his natural landscapes. He concentrates more often on the effect of light and shadow areas by using not just bright and dark colors, but also using glazes of colored transparent media. His surface textural qualities now not only rely upon mosaic application of color (i.e., water), but also on one color application to smooth out color effects on some planes (i.e, Corot's color treatment of building surfaces). 

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Upon going public in 1991, Joseph Fuchs has had the following solo shows and exhibitions:

Gallery 9, solo show, Los Altos, CA August 2021

Cafe Zoe, solo show, Menlo Park, CA November 2018

Cafe Zoe, solo show, Menlo Park, CA October, 2017

Cafe Zoe, solo show, Menlo Park, CA December, 2016

Cafe Zoe, solo show, Menlo Park, CA December, 2015

Cafe Zoe, solo show, Menlo Park, CA November, 2014

Cafe Zoe, solo show, Menlo Park, CA November, 2013

Cafe Zoe, solo show, Menlo Park, CA December, 2013/January, 2014

Alexandria Museum of Art's 26th Annual September Competition Exhibition, Alexandria, Louisiana, September, 2013

Rosewood Gallery, solo show, Kettering, Ohio, July/August, 2013

Hudson Valley Art Association's 81st Annual Exhibition at Lyme Art Association, Old Lyme, Connecticut, June/July, 2013

Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, "Best of Show," Breckenridge, Texas, April/June, 2013

Pacific Art League, "Painting, Painting, Painting", Palo Alto, California, March, 2013

University Gallery, Savannah, Georgia, January, 2013

2nd Annual Armstrong National 2-D Exhibition, Savannah, Georgia, January, 2013

4th Annual Pinnacle National Juried Competition at the Foster Tanner Art Gallery, Tallahassee, Florida, September, 2012

21st Annual Breckenridge Fine Arts, won "Juror's Award", Breckenridge, Texas, September, 2012

Art Revolution Taipei 2012, [juried show], Taipei, Taiwan, March, 2012

Linus Gallery, Pasadena, California, February, 2012

Karpeles Museum, Santa Barbara, California, December, 2011

Allied Artists of America Juried Show, Inc., 15 Gramercy Park Smith,
New York, New York, November, 2011

26th Annual Bosque Art Classic, Clifton, Texas, September, 2011

Brenda Taylor Gallery, New York, New York, August, 2011

Arts on Main, Ventura, California, July, 2011

Sterling Court, San Mateo, California, May, 2010

Pearl Canyon Gallery, Carmel, California, May 2010

Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, California, January 2010

Voshan Fine Arts, Palo Alto, California, May 2006

Biennale Internazionale Dell'Carte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy, December 2005

Voshan Fine Arts, Palo Alto, California, May 2005

Voshan Fine Arts, Palo Alto, California, July 2005

Jocco's, Los Altos, California, February 2002 - March 2002

Kertesz Fine Arts Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1997-2001

Jocco's, Los Altos, Calfornia, April 2000.

Sunbird Gallery, Los Altos, California, October 1998.

Jocco's, Los Altos, Calfornia, November 1997 - February 1998.

Flora Hotel, Venice, Italy, July 1995

Il Carnevale, Herbst Pavilion, San Francisco, February 18, 1995.

Museo Italo-Americano, San Francisco, California, January 1995.

Galerie Genese, San Mateo, California, December 1994.

Arte 13, Venice, Italy, July 1994.

Galerie Genese, San Mateo, California, October 1993.

Gallery House, Palo Alto, California, March 1993.

Fast Frame, Menlo Park, California, October 1991.


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