Robert De Niro, Sr. was an American painter who blended gestural abstraction with observed colors and forms. Influenced by the work of Henri Matisse, De Niro embraced the sumptuousness of early-20th-century French painting within a mellowed form of Abstract Expressionism. “The whole idea of ‘action painting’ is foreign to me, and, I believe, detrimental to painting, which is what Leonardo called it, ‘a mental thing,’” the artist once explained. “A physical action is painting, when it dominates, dulls sensitivity to nature and to one’s own feelings, precludes subtlety, and institutes a dead mechanical routine.” Born on May 3, 1922 in Syracuse, NY, a precocious artist from an early age, De Niro studied painting under Hans Hofmann in Provincetown as well as at the famed Black Mountain College under Josef Albers. In 1946, at the age of 24, De Niro was the subject of his first solo exhibition at Peggy Guggeheim’s Art of this Century Gallery. Over the following decades, the artist persisted in his painterly style amidst the changing attitudes of the art world brought on by Pop Art and Minimalism. De Niro’s early fame was short lived but he continued to be respected by critics and fellow artists throughout his career. The artist died on May 3, 1993 in New York, NY. In 2014, the artist’s son the award winning actor Robert De Niro debuted his film Remember the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr., a documentary which is both a moving tribute and perceptive portrait of his father. Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of the the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, among others.
Regionalist painter (Iowa) Grant Wood:
Another Regionalist painter, this one from Missouri:
Deborah Butterfield’s sculptural forms are based on her unique subject, horses. Constructed in wood, and cast in bronze, the freestanding sculptures are shown in two scales: life size works and smaller bronzes. With extraordinary focus and conviction, Butterfield works independently of the tides of trends and art movements. She has become a master of three-dimensional images of horses, building her sculptures with no sketches or maquettes, working directly with wood pieces or found metal scraps.
Great African American Neo-expressionist painter who died young:
In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a phenomenon. He became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200 and became best friends with Andy Warhol. Appreciated by both the art cognoscenti and the public, Basquiat was launched into international stardom. However, soon his cult status began to override the art that had made him famous in the first place. In the documentary below director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend, but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged while minimalist, conceptual art was the fad; as a successful black artist, he was constantly confronted by racism and misconceptions. Much can be gleaned from insider interviews and archival footage, but it is Basquiat’s own words and work that powerfully convey the mystique and allure of both the artist and the man.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA ARTISTS
In 2007, a cache of more than 10,000 photographic negatives was sold at auction. The man who bought them soon discovered beautiful images of Chicago street scenes from the mid-20th century. Who was the unknown artist behind the photographs?:
The soundtrack to the video below is an odd choice, but the photos are great:
MEXICO & CENTRAL AMERICA
Great Mexican painter from 20th century:
Great social-realist painter from Mexico and lover of Frida Kahlo:
Canadian Artist and Writer: Emily Carr studied in San Francisco in 1889-95, and in 1899 she traveled to England, where she was involved with the St. Ives group and with Hubert von Herkomer’s private school. She lived in France in 1910 where the work of the Fauves influenced the colourism of her work and she came into contact with Frances Hodgkins. Discouraged by her lack of artistic success, she returned to Victoria where she came close to giving up art altogether.
However, her contact with the Group of Seven in 1930 resurrected her interest in art, and throughout the 1930s she specialized in scenes from the lives and rituals of Native Americans. She also showed her awareness of Canadian native culture through a number of works representing the British Columbian rainforest. She lived among the native Americans to research her subjects. Many of her Expressionistic paintings represent totem poles and other artefacts of Indian culture.–Learn from Masters, Inc.
“Tom Thomson was a renowned Canadian painter and artist during the early 20th century, who inspired the formation of the ‘Group of Seven’, the first national school of art in Canada, established in 1920. After taking up different odd jobs in Canada and the US, he returned to his hometown, Ontario, to pursue a career in arts. While working in various photo-engraving firms, he honed his artistic skills and started making weekend painting trips with a couple other adventurous painters, until he discovered Algonquin Park, which became his painting hub. His wilderness-themed paintings and sketches were largely inspired by this provincial park. Some of his career’s most popular artworks have been ‘The Northern River’, ‘The Jack Pine’, and ‘The West Wind’. He died unexpectedly at a time when he had just started mastering his craft and getting some recognition. He is counted among Canada’s hugely talented artists, for his superb portrayal of Canadian wilderness on the canvas, his marvelous use of striking colors, and simple interpretation of landscapes. He has been highly credited and appreciated by art historians for marvelously capturing the rugged beauty of Algonquin Park during the early 1910s.”–Learn From The Masters, Inc.: