Rocky Schenck was raised on a ranch in the hill country outside of Dripping Springs, Texas. His parents were an imaginative, creative and colorful couple who enjoyed life, parties, and the occasional drink or two. They delighted in creating a fantasy world for their two children, making each and every holiday, birthday, and lost tooth a “really big deal”. Rocky and his sister Becky believed in tooth fairies, Easter bunnies, and Santa Claus just a little bit longer than other kids. He was nicknamed “Rocky” when he was three days old by his sister, who was confused by the other names his parents chose for his birth certificate: Richard Davis Botho Arthur Schenck.
At age twelve, Schenck began studying oil painting, having been greatly influenced by the romantic landscape paintings and portraiture work of his great-great grandfather Hermann Lungkwitz (1813-1891) and great-great uncle Richard Petri (1824-1857), both German immigrants and classically trained artists who moved to the Texas Hill Country in 1851. Schenck began selling his paintings professionally at age 13.
Around this same time, Schenck began a lifelong interest in motion pictures and photography, watching vintage films on television as often as possible. In his early teens, he began writing, directing and photographing short experimental films and learning still photography while shooting production stills on the sets of his movies.
His fascination with the art of filmmaking and photography motivated a transition to Los Angeles, where he worked at a variety of odd jobs while continuing to create films and photographs. Artists in the motion picture, musical, literary and theatrical worlds began approaching Schenck for their projects, thus creating a diverse portfolio of fine art, portraiture, film and theater work.
A gallery owner in New York discovered Schenck’s work and gave him his first one man photography exhibition, followed by a second exhibition a year later. Both shows were well received and reviewed by several publications, including Art in America, Artforum, and Aperture. Since then, Rocky has continued to show in galleries around the world and his work is now included in several prestigious museum and private collections. The Wittliff Collections in San Marcos, Texas own the largest collection of Schenck’s work.
Schenck travels often to create his fine art work. “I love to go out wandering with my camera, sometimes with no specific agenda planned for myself,” Schenck said in an interview with author John Berendt. “I always stumble across something or someone that intrigues me – whether it’s a hypnotic landscape or a perfect stranger going about their day unaware of my eavesdropping on their reality. I simply take my camera with me wherever I go and try to remain open to whatever life shoves – or gently places – in front of me.”
For the past several years, Schenck has been concentrating on a new collection of large format hand-tinted color images, which were exhibited in his recent shows in Norway, Korea and Texas.
In the music and entertainment world, Schenck has photographed several hundred album covers and has written and directed over 150 music videos. He has shot fashion, editorial and portraits for Vogue, Rolling Stone, Time, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, etc. He has collaborated with personalities ranging from Adele, Francis Bean Cobain, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Ray Bradbury, Ellen DeGeneres, Baz Luhrmann, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, P.J. Harvey, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Annie Lennox, T-Bone Burnett, Joni Mitchell, The Cramps , Prince Poppycock, Linda Ronstadt, David Cassidy, Greg Kinnear, Josh Duhamel, Diana Krall, Tom Cruise, Johnny Mathis, Delta Goodren, Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, The Eels, Jason Lee, Bill Paxton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman, Neil Diamond, Marissa Tomei, Sugarland, Laurence Fishburne, Crispin Glover, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, Gladys Knight, Willy Deville, Angie Dickinson, Devo, Patti LaBelle, Guns N’ Roses, Dionne Warwick, John Waite, Gloria Estefan, Donna Summer, Alice in Chains, Ozzy Osbourne, Melissa Etheridge, Scissor Sisters, Paul Westerberg, X, The Pixies, Martika, Angelyne, Stockard Channing, Al Jarreau, Gary Coleman, Linda Blair, Robby Krieger, Spirit, Dokken, Iris DeMent, Trisha Yearwood, Stan Ridgway, L.A. Guns, Supersuckers, Raging Slab, Violent Femmes, Faster Pussycat, Joey McIntyre, The Misfits, Redd Kross, Luna, Gary Barlow, Ace of Base, Lisa Stansfield, Van Halen, Sheryl Crow, Meat Puppets, Marc Anthony, Julie Newmar, Imperial Teen, Roachford, David McAllmont, David Arnold, Combustible Edison, Peabo Bryson, Seal, Afghan Whigs, k.d. Lang, Emmylou Harris, Pearl Jam, Francoise Hardy, Jerry Lee Lewis, Natalie Cole, Weird Al Yankovic, Madeleine Peyroux, John Prine, and many other bands, musicians, and artists.
Director William Friedkin utilized Schenck’s art photographs as massive sets in his recent production of the opera “The Makropulos Affair” in Florence, Itay, and also in the classic Bartok opera, “Duke Bluebeard’s Castle” in Los Angeles.
A collection of Rocky Schenck’s photographs was published by the University of Texas Press in 2003, which sold out it’s first and second editions. John Berendt, author of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, and a collector of Mr. Schenck’s work, wrote the foreword.
Schenck’s second book of fine art photographs, entitled “The Recurring Dream”, was published in 2016 by the University of Texas Press. The book includes Schenck’s hand tinted color images, with a foreword by acclaimed visionary William Friedkin, and an afterword by Schenck
A book of Schenck’s decades of portrait photography entitled “Portraits, Etc.” is scheduled for release in late 2017.
Foreword by John Berendt
2003, University of Texas Press in Austin, TX; 160 pages