Brett Kaufman

Brett Kaufman is a San Francisco artist whose work is inspired by the numerous biographies he reads. Brett strives for the essence of each reading and transforms that person’s story into a visual dialog that has resulted in this series of assemblage and surrealist portraits.

Brett Kaufman – Avenue 12 Gallery Profile


Brett Kaufman is a San Francisco-based artist whose work is inspired by the numerous biographies he has read over the years. His attempt to take the essence of a particular reading and transform that person’s story into a visual dialog has resulted in his ongoing series of surrealist portraits. Brett’s work is created using one of, or a combination of the following: photography, collage, and assemblage.

Born the Summer of Love, Brett grew up in Los Angeles, California. 1987 brought Brett up north to San Francisco to help take care of his brother Perry, who was diagnosed with the still mystified disease of AIDS. After his brother’s passing, Brett saw how fleeting life could be, and decided to stay in the city he came to love and pursue his true passion of art. His early work was very political, due to the times and surroundings he was living in. It was there that he attended and graduated from San Francisco State University, studying under famed photo realist painter Robert Bechtle, and his wife, art historian Whitney Chadwick. Thirty years later, Brett still finds himself inspired by the city he has come to call home, and sees his art as a never ending journey of discovery and reflection.

Kaufman’s work has been presented in museums, galleries, and alternative spaces as varied as San Francisco City Hall, SF Camerawork, Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum, New York’s Monique Goldstrom Gallery, and the Rumbach-Synagogue in Budapest, Hungary. In 2016, he participated in ‘Interpretations of Vincent’, at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, NL. “Ode to Harvey Milk” became the poster and playbill for the San Francisco Opera’s production of “Harvey Milk The Opera”. Brett’s imagery, has graced the covers of The SF Bay Guardian, Frontiers Magazine, and over 30 issues of the San Francisco Sentinel. His art has been enthusiastically received over the years, and sits in many prestigious collections, including the Rene di Rosa Foundation in Napa Valley, the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, and sold through the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.


I often thinks of my work as a puzzle that is put together piece by piece, similar to a mosaic. Each portrait has a separate story to tell; and likewise, a separate technique involved. Inspired by 16th century painter Arcimboldo and the 20th century surrealists who followed in his footsteps, my work creates a visual back and forth between form and symbol – as the viewer shifts between seeing the subject represented and the objects used to create it. Chosen materials can include everything from books to typewriters to clocks to piano keys.


2017 California State Senate Office of Scott Weiner, Gay Pride Group Show, San Francisco, CA
          BG Gallery, Bergamot Station Group Show, Santa Monica, CA
          TAG Gallery, Group Show, Los Angeles, CA
          Verum Ultimum Gallery, Chasing Ghosts, Portland, OR

2016 Van Gogh Museum, Interpretations of Vincent, Amsterdam, Netherlands

2015 Hud Gallery, Dab Art Group Show, Ventura, CA

2014 House of Israel, Fused, San Diego, CA
          Oceana Gallery, Read All Over, Pacifica, CA

2011 Claude Lane Gallery, Solo Show, San Francisco, CA
          Pier 92, The Artist Project NY, New York, NY
          Desotorow Gallery, The Meticulous, Savannah, GA

2010 The Long Island Museum, Art Represents Food, Long Island, NY
          Baton Rouge Gallery, Third Annual Surreal Salon, Baton Rouge, LA
          Half Moon Bay Museum, National Group Show, Half Moon Bay, CA
          Pacific Art League, Figures and Faces, Palo Alto, CA
          Tina Weitz Gallery, Library Foliage, Austin, TX

2009 Soho Photo Gallery, National Group Show, New York, NY
          Rumbach-Synagogue, Anne Frank in the Artists’ Eyes, Budapest, Hungary
          Mill Valley City Hall, Solo Show, Mill Valley, CA
          Pacific Art League, Figures and Faces, Palo Alto, CA

2008 Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Photography III, Navato, CA
          Pacifica Center for the Arts, 2008 Bay Area Annual, CA
          AG Gallery, King and Queen, Brooklyn, NY
          ACCI Gallery, ‘08 National, Berkeley, CA
          Gallery Route One, 25th Anniversary, Pt. Reyes, CA
          Peninsula Museum of Art, Beaux & Eros, Belmont, CA
          City of Brea Art Gallery, Made in California, Brea, CA
          1078 Gallery, April Group Show, Chico, CA

2007 1212 Gallery, Year Round Group Show, Burlingame, CA
          Quicksilver Gallery, June Show, Sonoma, CA

2002 San Francisco Art Commission, Art in City Hall, San Francisco, CA
          Monique Goldstrom Gallery, Photography in April, New York. NY
          Bradford Gallery, Group Show, San Francisco, CA
          Terrain Gallery, Group Show, San Francisco, CA

2001 Bert Green Fine Art, Solo Exhibition, Los Angeles, CA
          Leslie Lohem Gallery, Body Language: Explicit/Implicit, New York, NY
          Michael Himovitz Gallery, The World from a Gay Perspective, Sacramento, CA
          Limn Gallery, Group Show, San Francisco, CA
          Denise Anne Blackburn Gallery, Solo Exhibition, San Francisco, CA

2000 Bert Green Fine Art, Urban Landscapes, Los Angeles, CA
          Terrain Gallery, Books… Once Upon a Time, San Francisco, CA

1999 Monique Goldstrom Gallery, Surrealist Group Show, New York, NY
          Terrain Gallery, Fin de Siecle, San Francisco, CA
          Adell Mcmillan Gallery, We Are Family, Eugene, OR
          Terrain Gallery, 3 Artists, San Francisco, CA

1998 David Aden Gallery, Male Bonding II, Los Angeles, CA
          DP Fong Gallery, Toys in Contemporary Art II, San Jose, CA

1997 Belcher Studios Gallery, Six, San Francisco, CA
          Photo Metro Gallery, 14th Annual Contest, 1st Place, San Francisco, CA

1996 Sheppard Gallery, Images ‘96, Reno, Nevada
          Spectrum Gallery, ‘96 Biennial Photo Exhibition, Fresno, CA
          Circle Elephant Fine Art, Fan da Sickle, San Francisco, CA
          Las Vegas Arts Council, Women in Art, Las Vegas, Nevada
          Sinclair College, Solo Exhibition, Dayton, Ohio

1995 Bucheon Gallery, Contemplating Queer Art, San Francisco, CA
          Berkeley Art Center, 11th National Exhibition, Berkeley, CA
          Eighth Muse Gallery, Solo Exhibition, Los Angeles, CA
          Union Art Gallery, SF State University, Cultural Identity, San Franicsco, CA
          ArtReach, AIDS Services Exhibition, San Francisco, CA

1994 The Eye Gallery, The Bay Guardian 10th Annual Contest, San Francisco, CA
          Photo Metro Gallery, 12th Annual Competition, San Francisco, CA
          San Francisco Camerawork, 20th Anniversary Exhibition, SF, CA
          Central Arts Collective, The American Dream, Tucson, Arizona,
          The Eye Gallery, Exhibitions ‘94, San Francisco, CA

1993 Crocker Art Museum, 68th Kingsley Exhibition, Sacramento, CA
          Photo Metro Gallery, 11th Annual Competition, San Francisco, CA
          ACCI Gallery, Images and Objects, Berkeley, CA

1992 Santa Cruz Art League, 62nd Statewide Exhibition, Santa Cruz, CA
          Forbidden Images Gallery, Imagination Unleashed, San Jose, CA
          Photo Metro Gallery, 10th Annual Competition, San Francisco, CA

1991 San Francisco Camerawork, Bay Area Student Photo Exhibition, SF, CA
          Union Art Gallery, SF State University, Woman as Subject, SF, CA

1990 New Langton Arts, 69 Hours, ACT-UP London, San Francisco, CA
          25th Street Studio, A Day Without Art, San Francisco, CA


Rene di Rosa Foundation, Napa Valley, CA
Anne Frank Museum, Amersterdam, Netherlands
Sold through the United States Holocaust Museum, Washington D.C.
San Francisco AIDS Foundation Health Center, San Francisco, CA


CBS Bay Sunday (televised)
Artweek Magazine, Review: Michael Himovitz Gallery
Bay Area Reporter, Review: Belcher Street Studios
Frontiers Magazine, Artist Profile by Melissa Miller

Avenue 12 Gallery
1101 Lake Street (at 12th Avenue)
San Francisco CA 94118