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Robert Noel Blair

 (1912 - 2002)
Robert Noel Blair was active/lived in New York.  Robert Blair is known for desert landscape and military painting, sculpture, prints, teaching.

Robert Noel Blair

Biography from Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc.

Biography photo for Robert Noel Blair
Robert Noel Blair (American, 1912-2003) was a prolific Western New York artist, painter, sculptor, print maker and teacher.  He is best known for his rural life and desert landscapes and World War II scenes.  He has painted throughout western New York, Maine, Vermont and the American Southwest, although he has painted in Canada, Mexico, Ireland and the Virgin Islands.  His paintings are noted for their range of color, fluidity and movement.  He is known for his watercolors, but also worked in oils, pen & ink, sculpture, acrylics and drawing.

1912- Born August 12, Buffalo, NY.

circa 1925- Studied privately with Charles E. Burchfield.

1931-1934- Studied Drawing & Sculpting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA, under Guthrie, Burns & sculpture under Frederick Allen.

1933- Joined the Patteran Society.

1934-46- Exhibited at the Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, NY.

1937- First one-man exhibition at the Bredemeier Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1938-55- Taught at the Buffalo Museum of Science, and the Art Institute of Buffalo, NY (except during the war years).

1939- Exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, NY.

1940- Exhibited at the Albright Art Gallery (prize), Buffalo, NY, the Morton Gallery, NY.

1942- Exhibited solo at the Albright Art Gallery, and Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, NY.  Entered the U.S. Army, served in the 3rd Regiment in Fort McClellan, the 17th Airborne Division in Belgium and Germany, and the 82nd Airborne Division in Berlin.  Allowed to paint a series of watercolors in the field, or war scenes. Also Designed training aids. Most of the paintings were later donated by Blair to the Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo, NY (as it was known then, after a solo exhibition of these works in 1985). Exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and the Watercolor Society.

1942-44- Exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, IL.

1943- Married Jeanette Kenney (Blair), a fellow painter from the Art Institute of Buffalo.  Raised three children; Jeanne (died 1965), David and Bruce.

1944- Exhibited at the Albright Art Gallery (prize), Buffalo, NY.

1945- Commissioned to do a Mural by the U.S. Army at their building in Berlin, Germany.

1946 to 1949- He was the Director of the Art Institute of Buffalo, NY.

1947- Exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

1948- Exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago (Watowsky prize), IL. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA.

circa 1951- Commissioned to do a Mural for the Bethlehem Steel Company Plant in Buffalo, NY.

1953- Exhibited at the Butler Art Institute, Youngstown, OH, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Watercolor National (first watercolor prize), NYC.

1955- Taught at the Albright Art School, Buffalo, NY.

1955-71- Taught at the Buffalo State University, Buffalo, NY.

1966- Exhibited at the Buffalo State University (retrospective), Buffalo, NY.

2003- June 15th, died at his home in Holland, NY.

Other Exhibitions/Repeat: The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Watercolor Institute, Chicago, IL, Western New York Exhibitions, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts National, Philadelphia, PA. Baltimore Museum of Art, MD. Colgate University (1939 & 1941). Alabama Polytechnic Institute and University of Alabama (1944).

Publications: Captain and Mate, 1940. St. Lawrence Seaway, 1957. Illustrations for Ford Times Magazine, 1958-61. Illustrations for , 1966 and illustrations for Jeannie's world, 1966.

Member of: The Patteran Society, Guggenheim Fellowships (1946 & 1951), American Watercolor Society, Buffalo Print Club and the Buffalo Society of Artists.

Honors: Two Guggenheim fellowships (1946-47, 1951-52), 10 Gold & Silver Medals at the Buffalo Society of Artists Annuals, numerous other prizes and nearly 60 one-man shows.

Works In: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, NY, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, the Ford Motor Company Collection, Dearborn, MI and numerous business collections.

(Rewritten & compiled chronologically by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY from sources: With permission from AskArt, prior submissions: the Butler Institute of American Art and the Plein Air Magazine, June 2005. Other sources: The Wayward Muse: A Historical Survey Of Painting In Buffalo, by Susan Krane 1987. Robert Blair & The Watercolor Tradition in Western New York, by Nancy Weekly, Head of Collections at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY 2000. Who was Who in American Art, 1999. Robert Noel Blair interview, 1994 Nov. 30. and 1995 Aug. 27, conducted by Robert Brown for the Archives of American Art, Summary, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560.)

Biography from Burchfield-Penney Art Center
Probably one of the most influential artists to use watercolor in the mid-twentieth century was Western New York painter Robert Blair. Born in 1912 in Buffalo, N.Y., Blair decided he wanted to become an artist in his teens. He studied art at the Albright Art School in Buffalo and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mass., during the early 1930s. It was during this time that he met and befriended fellow watercolorist Charles Burchfield.

Although he is best known for his watercolor paintings, Blair also worked in sculpture, oils, pen and ink, acrylic, and printmaking. His style varies from expressionistic to almost pure abstraction. Through the use of movement and color, Blair is able to capture the beauty and drama of nature.

His inspiration to paint nature first came to him during family trips to Fletcher, Vermont. Spending his free time surrounded by the beauty of a rural landscape ultimately led to some of his favorite subjects and most popular works. Blair was inspired not only by the countryside, but also by the animals—particularly horses—that inhabited the land. The artist has said of Vermont:

 “There is nowhere else that I know where you can stand in one spot and turn slowly in a circle and be completely inspired at every degree of the turn.”[1]

In his 30s, Blair went to fight for his country overseas. When Blair served in World War II his subject matter changed and he produced works that reflected the destruction and devastation caused by war. One of his most famous wartime paintings is The Battle of the Bulge.

After he returned from the war, he settled down with his wife (also an artist) and three children in East Aurora, N.Y. It was then that Blair began to teach art throughout the Western New York area and elsewhere across the country.

During the 1940s Blair received many awards and major commissions. In 1947 he painted a large mural for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. In 1946 and 1951 he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, which allowed him to travel on motorcycle across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The goal of these journeys was to remove himself from the familiar and ultimately create something entirely different. He continued to do this well into his 80s.

His works can be seen in the collections of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Ford Motor Company, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute of Utica, Colgate University, the Bryn Mawr Art Association, the Dubuque Art Association, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Collection of Marine Paintings.

[1] Walter Garver, “An American Visionary,” Watercolor Magic, Oct. 2004, pp. 66-69.
[2] Author unknown, "Robert Blair," Blair- Eclectic Art and Objects Gallery, (Accessed 1/30/2015)

Biography from Butler Institute of American Art
Painter, Sculptor

Born Buffalo, NY August 12, 1912. Studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

His work is in Metropolitan Museum of Art, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute and Twain Museum of the History of Art.

He has been commissioned to do artwork by the US Army, and Bethlehem Steel Company.

He has exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery, the Watercolor Institute in Chicago and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts National.

He was the director of the Art Institute of Buffalo from 1946 to 1949.

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About  Robert Noel Blair

Born:  1912 - Buffalo, New York
Died:   2002 - Holland, New York
Known for:  desert landscape and military painting, sculpture, prints, teaching