Find, Learn, Price Art
Enjoy the comprehensive art database we've compiled since 1987
Membership Details
Images, sales charts, bios, signatures, 30 artist Alerts and more ...
Art auction records:  Millions of references for pricing research
Or, register for Free Alerts
To track 10 artists.

Already a member?  Sign in here

Robert De Niro Sr

 (1922 - 1993)
Robert De Niro, Sr. was active/lived in New York.  Robert De Niro Sr is known for modernist figure and portrait painting, abstract expression.

Robert De Niro, Sr.

Biography from Hackett-Freedman Gallery

Robert De Niro, Sr. (1922-1993) was a postwar artist whose paintings combined modernist abstract and expressionist methods with traditional compositions and subject matter.  Part of the New York School of the forties and fifties, De Niro, painted representational subject matter—landscapes, still lifes, and figures—but used these themes primarily as formal constructs for exploring the possibilities inherent in paint, color, and form.

De Niro's utilization of action painting and gestural expression places his work within the abstract expressionist discourse but it nonetheless remains firmly grounded in European, specifically French, antecedents.

Born in Syracuse, New York, De Niro showed artistic promise at a very early age.   At 18, he attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina where he studied under Josef Albers.  However, chafing under the rigidity of Albers' theories, he decamped to New York a year later, in 1941, to study with Hans Hofmann.

De Niro had his first solo show in 1946 at Peggy Guggenheim's gallery Art of This Century.  Throughout the fifties he exhibited at the Charles Egan Gallery alongside artists such as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Philip Guston.  In the 1960s, he moved to Paris, where he continued to paint, enjoying the patronage of legendary collector Joseph Hirshhorn, and receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1968.

De Niro often executed hundreds of studies of a single composition and scraped and repainted individual canvases repeatedly until he achieved a balance of color and line. He held a strong reverence for 19th-century French painting and greatly admired the French modernists, favoring the works of André Derain, Henri Matisse, Chaim Soutine, and Pierre Bonnard, among others. Their influence, especially in regards to De Niro's brushwork and palette, is evident in his work.

De Niro continued to focus on his primary painterly interests of color and form until his death in 1993.  Recently, De Niro, Sr.'s work has received renewed attention and, in 2005, a 208-page monograph on his life and work, written by Peter Frank, was published.

Robert De Niro work is represented in major American museums including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Solo Exhibitions:
1945  Art of this Century Peggy Guggenheim Gallery, New York
1950  Charles Egan Gallery, New York, NY (also 1952, 1953, 1954)
1963  Five American Paintings, Knoedler Gallery, NY
1967  State University of New York, Buffalo, NY
1969  Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, NY
Reese Palley Gallery, San Francisco
1970  Zabriskie Gallery, New York, NY (1968, 1967, 1965, 1962, 1960, 1958)
1971  Brenner Gallery, Provincetown, MA
1973  Zoller Gallery, Pennsylvania State University, PA
1974  Lithographs, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, KA
1976  Poindexter Gallery, New York, NY (also 1955, 1956)
1978  David Stuart Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
William Grappo Gallery, Swain School of Design, New Bedford, MA
Arts Gallery, Works on Paper, Baltimore, MD
1979  Charles Campbell Gallery, San Francisco, CA (also 1978)
1980  Hobart Smith College, MA
1981  Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC
Ashville Art Museum, Ashville, NC
Foster White Gallery, Drawings by Robert De Niro, Seattle, WA
1983  David Hamilton Gallery, Charleston, NC
1984  Art Center in Hargate, St. Pauls School, Concord, NH
1986  Contemporary Arts Center, Great Falls, MT
Crane Kalman Gallery, London, England
Graham Modern Gallery, New York, NY (also 1980, 1982, 1984,  
1994  Salander -O'Reilly Galleries, Robert De Niro, Sr: Paintings, NY
1996  Salander- O'Reilly Galleries, Robert De Niro, Sr.: Charcoals, NY
1997  Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Robert De Niro Sr.: Paintings, NY
1998  Yoshii Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1999  Galerie Piltzer, Paris, France
Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Robert De Niro, Sr.: Works on Paper,
2000  Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Robert De Niro, Sr.: Landscapes, NY
2002  La Galerie Metta, Madrid, Spain
2005  Paintings, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York, NY
2006  Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA (also 2000, 1998)

Group Exhibitions:
1956  Whitney Annual, Stable Annuals, Jewish Museum, Second Generation, New York, NY
1959  Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston, 100 Americans on Paper, Boston, MA
1960  Nebraska Art Association, Lincoln, NA
 American Federation of Arts, Figure in Contemporary Painting, traveling exhibition 1960-1961
1961  Ball State Teachers College, 7th Annual Drawing and
Sculpture Show, Muncie, IN
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Annual
1962  Kornblee Gallery, The Figure, NY
Illinois Wesleyan Annual
Museum of Modern Art, Recent Figure Paintings, NY
1965  New School Center, Portraits from the American Art World, NY
1969  Borgenicht Gallery, Hommage to Matisse, NY
1971  The CIBA-GEIGY Collection, A New Consciousness, Ardsley, NY
1975  Reese Palley Gallery, Atlantic City, NJ/San Francisco, CA
1976  Buecker Gallery, NY
1977  Graham Gallery, The Art of Pastel, NY
1978  Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, RI
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA
1982  The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
1984  Art Museum Association of America, San Francisco, CA
 Emotional Impact: New York School Figurative Expressionism, curated by April Kingsley, through 1986
Graham Gallery, Woman: A Changing Picture, NY
University of Wisconsin, Modern Masters of Classical Realism, Oshkosh, WI
Terra Museum of American Art, 20th Century American Drawings:
The Figure in Context, organized and circulated by the International Exhibition Foundation, Washington, D.C.
Graham Modern, Summer Celebrations, NY
1985  Graham Modern, Small Works, Fine Works, NY
The Members of the Gallery, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
1986  The Hudson River Museum, Form or Formula, Drawing and Drawings, Yonkers, NY
Ingber Gallery, Survival of the Fittest II: Figurative Work on Paper
1992 The Artists' Museum in association with the Tibor deNagy Gallery and Staempfli Gallery, The Police Building, Color As Subject, NY
1993  Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Monumental Nudes, NY, September 8-October 2
1995  Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, American Masters of Watercolor: A 100 Year Survey, Loretto, PA
1998  Hackett-Freedman Gallery, Seeing the Essential: Selected Works by Robert De Niro Sr.: Paul Resika and Leland Bell, San Francisco, CA

Adams, Sam. "The Painter's Painter," Flightime (January 1977): 17.
Ashbery, John. "Looking Good on Paper," New York (June 30, 1980).
Ashton, Dore. "Galleries: '52-'53 Flashback:Robert De Niro," Art Digest 27 (June 1953): 21.
Auer, J. The Milwaukee Journal, (November 18, 1984).
Benedick, Michael. New York Letter," Art International 9, no. 9-10 (1965): 42.
Batt, J. Art New England (1985).
Benedick, Michael. New York Letter," Art International 9, no. 9-10 (1965): 42.
Berrigan, Ted. "Robert De Niro," Art News 64 (October 1965): 12.
Bonetti, D. "De Niro's Wonderful Way in Color," San Francisco Examiner (October 2000).
Brenson, Michael. "Annual Exhibition at National Academy of Design," The New York Times  (February 15, 1985).
Burkhardt, Edith. "Robert De Niro," Art News 59 (Summer 1960): 15.
Campbell, Lawrence. "Robert De Niro," Art News 59 (October 1960): 12.
Campbell, Lawrence. "Five Americans Face Reality, "Art News 62 (September 1963). 25-27.
Campbell, Lawrence. "Robert De Niro," Art News 67 (Summer 1968): 17.
Campbell, Lawrence. "Robert De Niro at Graham Modern," Art in America (September 1984): 209.
Campbell, Lawrence. "Review exhibitions." Art in America (July 1995): 86.
Cohen, D. "Galley-Going," The New York Sun (August 14, 2003).
Cohen, D. "Student and Master," The New York Sun (January 20, 2005).
De Niro, Jr., Robert.  Vogue (January 1995).
Dickey, Christopher, "The Second Time Around," Newsweek (May 31,1999): 70-71.
Dickman, Sharon. "Painter Robert De Niro Pierces Space with Color, Real Real Images," The Evening Sun Accent (April 18, 1979): B1.       
Dimopoulos, T. "Exhibit Features Works of Robert De Niro," The Saratogian.
Edgar, Natalie. "Robert De Niro," Art news 69 (April 1970): 18.
Edgar, Natalie. "Robert De Niro Paintings," Art World (May 18/June 18,1979): 8.
Ffrench-Frazier, Nina. 'A New York Letter: Robert De Niro," Art International 24, no. 1-2 (September/ October 1980): 80-81.
Finkelstein, Lous. "New Look: Abstract-Impressionism," Art News 55 (March 1956): 36-39, 66-68.
Frank, P. "Robert De Niro," Salander-O'Reilly, New York (2005).
Fussingere, H. College Art Journal (1961).
Goldin, Amy. "De Niro," Arts 40 (November 1965): 62.
Greenberg, Clement. The Nation (May 18, 1946).
Gruen, John. New York Herald Tribune (September 1963).
Gutman, Edward. "De Niro Doesn't Shy From His Father's Art, San Francisco Chronicle (November 9, 1998): E1, E5.
Hale, Nick. "Battle Between Realism and Abstraction Stilled," Art World 4, no. 10 (Summer 1980): 1, 5.
Herrera, Haydon. "Robert De Niro at Poindexter," Art in America (May/June1977): 117.
Hess, Thomas B. "Private Faces in Public Places," Art News 63 (Febuary 1965): 36-38, 62.
Hess, Thomas B. "Robert De Niro," Art News 49 (Febuary 1951): 49.
Hess, Thomas. "Robert De Niro," Art news 60 (May 1961): 15.
Hess, Thomas B. "U.S. Painting: Some Recent Directions," Art News Annual 25 (1956): 91
Hess, Thomas B. "Warhol and De Niro, Honesty is the Best Policy," New York (December 6, 1976).
Hooten, Bruce.  Arts. (1966).
Hooten, Bruce. Art News (1968).
Hooten, Bruce. "Robert De Niro," Art News 65 (January 1967): 12.       
Hooten, Bruce. "The Art Critisism of Robert De Niro" Arts Review (1984)
Hughes, Graham "Robert De Niro and Paul Resika at Crane Kalman," Arts Review (March 1986).
Jay, Eric. "Robert De Niro, Graham Modern," Art News 83 (Summer 1984): 187-8.
Karmel, Pepe, "Robert De Niro, Sr., The New York Times (January 20 1995).
Kramer, H. "Paint Brushes Full, Robert De Niro, Sr. Really Thought Big," New York Observer (March 7, 2005).
Langer, Sandra. "Harmonious Imagination: Paintings by Robert De Niro," Arts (May 1986).
Lansner, Kermit. "Can a Foundation Become a Medici?" Art News 58 (June 1959): 38-39, 56.
Magarowicz, J. De Niro at Zabriskie," Arts 44 (April 1970): 63.
Mascardi, Marco." Questo De Niro, Che Pittore!" Grazia (November 9, 1988): 58-60.
Mathew, Ray. "De Niro's Promise," Art World 6, no. 6 (February 22/March 22, 1982): 1, 4.
Mathew, Ray. "Robert De Niro," Arts 58 (May 1984): 11.
Matlock, D. "De Niro's Paintings," Art World (1986): vol. 10, no. 6, 1-3.
McBride, Henry. Art News 52 (June 1953): 6.
Mellow, James R. "Robert De Niro," Arts 30 (June 1956): 58.
Mullaly, Terrance. "Americans Out of the Mold: De Niro and Resika," The Daily Telegraph (April 2, 1986): 8.
Munro, Eleanor C. "De Niro Works on a Series of Pictures," Art News 57 (May 1958): 38-41.
Naves, Mario. "The Loaded Brush of Robert De Niro, Sr.," The New York Observer (January 24, 2000).
O'Hara, Frank. "Robert De Niro," Art News 54 (March 1955): 53.
Panero, J. "Gallery Chronicle," The New Criterion. Vol. 23, no. 6 (2005).
Panero, James. "Mystical Mediator: Re-examining the Legacy of Robert De Niro Sr.," Art & Antiques (September 2007).
Peterson, Valerie. "Robert De Niro," Art news 61 (December 1962): 17.
Politeo, Lisa. "Painting Hurt by Commercialization," The Daily Californian (August, 4 1978): 3.
Politeo, Lisa. "The Man Who's Been Robert De Niro Longer," San Francisco Examiner (August 9, 1979).
Preston, Staur. New York Times (September 1963).
Raynor, Vivian. "Robert De Niro," Arts 37 (January 1963): 54.
Raynor, Vivian. The New York Times (June 27, 1980).
Raynor, Vivian. The New York Times (February 26, 1982).
Rohrer, Judith. "Robert De Niro's Figures and Landscapes," Art Week (April 29, 1978).
Rossenthal, Deborah. "Robert De Niro," Arts 51 (Febuary, 1977): 8.
Ruthe, Barnaby. "De Niro's Authenticity Sudden Confrontation," Art World 8, no. 6 (March 1984).
Sawin, Martica. Arts 31 (March 1957).
Sawin, Martica. "Fortnight in Review: Robert De Niro," Art Digest 29 (March 1955): 23.
Sawin, Martica. "Good painting-No Label," Arts 37 (September 1963): 36-41.
Sawin, Martica. "Robert De Niro," Arts 35 (November 1960): 56.
Sawin, Martica. "Robert De Niro: A Fragrance of Place," Arts 56 (March 1982): 142-
Schjeldahl, Peter. "Fruit and Turpentine," The Village Voice (January 31,1995).
Schuyler, James. "Robert De Niro," Arts 33 (November 1958): 12.
Sharp, Christopher. "The De Niro 'Passione'," Women's Wear Daily (June 23, 1980): 20.
Silver, Joanne. "De Niro Showing Sizzles with Color," The Boston Herald (July 1, 1988): 39.
Smith, Lawrence. "Robert De Niro," Arts 35 (May 1961): 98.
Smith, Roberta. "Misplaced Attention, " Village Voice (March 3, 1982): 78.
Sutton, L. "De Niro Writes, Lives a Tribute to Dad".
Talmer, Jerry. "Robert De Niro the Painter," New York Post (December 4, 1976).
Tillim, Sidney. "Robert De Niro," Arts 34 (June 1960): 60.
Tyler, Parker. "Robert De Niro," Art News 55 (June 1956): 53.
Van Deren, C. The Painter and the Photograph, Messico. (1964): 136-137.
Vedova, Emilio "Fifty-Seventh Strret in Review: Robert De Niro," Art Digest 25 (Febuary 1, 1951): 19.
Ventura, Anita. "Robert De Niro," Arts 33 (November 1958): 55.
Vicente, Esteban. "Gris: Reality Cubed," Yarnall (May 1958): 41.
Workman, Andrea."Robert De Niro: New York Painter with Bay Area Sensibility," West Art (April 1978): 2.
Zimmer, William. "Memorabilia and Painting From Black Mountain's Glory Days," The New York Times (April 19, 1992): 10.
"Art Club: Twenty Years of Superstars and Shooting Stars," The New York Times Magazine (October 24, 1999).
Art International 9 (1965).
"Contemporary Drawings," Arts 33 (December 1958): 45.
"Galleries cross-country: Fort Worth, Tex." Art News 58 (October 1959): 48.       
"Like Son, Like Father," Italian-American Identity (March 1977): 34.
"Reviews and Previews," Art News (November 1958).
"Robert De Niro," Arts (February 1965).
"Robert De Niro," Art News (January 1965).
"Robert De Niro," Arts 42 (Summer 1968): 64.
"Robert De Niro at Salander O-Reilly," The New Yorker (February 10, 1997).
"Reviews and Previews: Abstract Painting," Art News 45 (May 1946): 64.
"Reviews and Previews," Art News (November 1958).
"Up From the Frenzy," Newsweek 48 (July 9, 1956): 59-60.

Biography from The Johnson Collection
In general, the leading Abstract Expressionist painters eschewed figurative representation in favor of visual essays dominated by color and gestural brushstrokes. Robert De Niro, Sr., was a talented exception to this tendency. A precocious child, he was born in Syracuse, New York, where he took classes at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts (now known as the Everson Museum of Art) from age eleven to fifteen. Still in his teens, De Niro enrolled at Black Mountain College in 1939 and studied with the school’s director, Josef Albers, whose analysis of color was critical to De Niro’s development. Albers’ rigid theoretical approach was ultimately incompatible with young De Niro’s more intuitive sensibility, however, and the young artist left North Carolina and moved to New York in 1940.

Hans Hofmann, the German-born Abstract Expressionist known for his theories regarding the “push-pull” of color, became De Niro’s teacher through 1942, both in New York and at his summer school in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Recognition came quickly; De Niro’s first solo show was held in 1946 at Peggy Guggenheim’s prestigious Art of This Century Gallery. The critical response to his colorful and painterly still lifes and voluptuous nudes was positive. During the 1950s, he exhibited paintings at the Charles Egan Gallery where Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline also displayed work. In addition, De Niro was included in the Whitney Annual and exhibitions at the Jewish Museum, the Stable Gallery, and the Zabriskie Gallery, which sold several paintings and works on paper to noted collector Joseph Hirshhorn.

During the early 1960s, aesthetic taste shifted toward Pop Art and minimalism. Disillusioned, De Niro went to France from 1961 to 1964, immersing himself in the oeuvres of Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard; the former is known for his brilliant color and nudes, the latter for his sensitive handling of paint and color. In 1968, De Niro was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and, during the 1970s, he taught in New York at Cooper Union and the New School for Social Research and at East Michigan State College. In addition to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum all own examples of his work.

Following De Niro’s death on his seventy-first birthday, the critic for the New York Times wrote: “Whether in drawing or painting, Mr. De Niro’s work is defined by an arresting physical confidence and a quality of natural talent that was widely acknowledged, even by critics who felt that his efforts could sometimes have an unfinished or impatient quality. His subjects derived from traditional realism—nudes, still lifes, and portraits—and he owed a particular debt to the contour drawings of Matisse. But his images, while legible, relied on a highly abstract repertory of quick dabs, thick swaths, and thin washes of paint.” In 2014, the artist’s son, the actor Robert De Niro, Jr., produced a highly regarded film documentary about his father’s career entitled Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr. The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Share an image of the Artist

  Full access to biographies is
  free each Friday

About  Robert De Niro, Sr.

Born:  1922 - Syracuse, New York
Died:   1993 - Manhattan, New York,
Known for:  modernist figure and portrait painting, abstract expression