Michael Bergt is a master of egg tempera, a paint used since antiquity, from ancient Egyptian portraits to medieval icons to Italian Renaissance masterpieces by artists like Michelangelo and Botticelli. Bergt, who co-founded the Society of Tempera Painters in 1997 and served as its president for 12 years, brings the medium into the 21st century with contemporary takes on Classical subjects favored by the Old Masters.
His figurative paintings often depict characters from Greek mythology, like Sisyphus, the Minotaur, and the goddess Diana. Diana, however, is unabashedly modern: a stag tattoo runs down her thigh. Bergt also lays his backgrounds with gold leaf, a technique associated with Byzantine art. In 2006, a mid-career retrospective, “Crossing Lines,” appeared at the Arnot Art Museum and traveled to the Chapel Art Center. Bergt’s work is in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the de Young Museum, among others.