Fred Schuback (1949-1992) supported himself as a Yellow Cab driver in New York City during the 1980s. By his own choice he drove the night shift, which allowed him to paint during the daylight hours. His taxi passengers were night people; their destinations were night places, and Schuback rendered them in his own unflinching style. He had no interest in prettifying the city or coddling the viewer. This is not to say that he was not inventive and even, at times, compassionate in his approach.
When Schuback was active, New York was considered the epicenter of the art world. If you were an artist in 1980, it was the only place to be. The city’s explosive creative energy and vast wealth allowed artists like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and others to reach unprecedented levels of fame and glory.
As an artist, Schuback was just beginning to achieve recognition. He had earned a BFA from Pratt Institute, and had had several critically acclaimed shows. He was on his way, but he struggled with poor mental health and, in 1992 at the age of 42, he tragically lost that battle. Since that time, his work has not been seen by the general public. Residing in several private collections, it has now begun to achieve the recognition it deserves.
Since Schuback’s death, many artists have benefitted from the Fred Schuback Scholarship at Pratt Institute, which each year awards a monetary prize to a student focusing on fine art.