Gallery Artists > Ken Ottinger Biography :

Ken Ottinger (b. 1945)  Artworks >>

Organizations* : SAHA, SI

Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Ken Ottinger is a nationally recognized Western sculptor. Ottinger spent his first ten years in the “Gateway to the West,” (St. Louis, Missouri), before his family moved to Los Angeles, California. In 1968, he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, and became a commercial artist. He became highly successful, winning multiple national and international awards for his free-lance illustration, working for Motor Trend Magazine, Universal Studios, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the U.S. Air Force Documentary Art Program.

In 1971, Ottinger turned his focus to sculpture, and, while he still paints, his bronzes are better known. Over his long and productive career, Ottinger has had the opportunity to study the cultures and wildlife of the America’s, and can be found quite often observing the flora and fauna in the great Northwest, especially Wyoming and Montana. His sculptural works depict historically accurate figurative subjects, created with a rich sensitivity. Today, Ottinger has a library of rare books, many dating back to the days of the Old West, which he studies continuously, and a museum-worthy collection of Plains Indian beadwork and weaponry, fine old saddles and spurs, Kachinas and pre-1900 pottery. Many of the items in his collection have served as inspiration for his sculpture and themselves have become integral components of his bronzes.

His interest in the Plains Indians “began by [my] collecting arrowheads. Soon I was reading everything about Indians I could lay my hands on, and before too long I had become a serious collector, meeting and trading with other collectors and searching out the finest artifacts.” In 1975, Ottinger, known as one of the nation’s authorities on Plains Indians, was invited to be Artist Instructor in Residence at the University of South Dakota at Vermilion. He later expanded his interests to include Central and South American indigenous cultures.

In 1993, Ottinger was commissioned by the United States Historical Society to do a series of sculptures commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Normandy Invasion and one year later was commissioned by the Phoenix Zoo to create a painting of the endangered Spectacle Bear, the only bear found in the southern hemisphere. Celebrities such as Bob Hope, Robert Redford and Nancy Sinatra, as well as many major corporations and countries, including China and Japan, appreciate Ottinger’s extraordinary talent. He has been featured in magazines such as Connoisseur, The Robb Report, Southwest Art, Decor Magazine, Sedona Magazine, and Artists of the Rockies and Golden West. Ottinger is currently a member of the prestigious Society of American Historical Artists and the Society of Illustrators.

Reference: Altermann Galleries publication,

  • SAHA = Society of American Historical Artists
  • SI = Society of Illustrators
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