The following information was submitted in June of 2006 by the artist:Richard Aber has been working in the visual arts since the
mid-1960s. He is best known for installations that physically
manifest his personal exploration of various philosophical tenets.
This is reflected in works of various sizes and mediums, some in
saturated color and others in refined neutrality, always skillfully
executed, and often containing deceptive layers of complexity for those
who care to investigate.
Richard grew up in a creative environment
that introduced him to painting, sculpture, and architecture at an
early age. His father was born in New York City, of German-Scottish
descent. His mother was born in Romania and immigrated to New York
when she was a child. They both aspired to be artists and met at the
Art Students League in the 1930s. During the war they moved to
California, where Richard was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His father
introduced him to theosophy and the Eastern mystical traditions when he
was in his teens, which led to a lifelong interest in the comparative
aspects of Eastern and Western philosophical thought.
college Richard shifted his emphasis from painting and sculpture to
filmmaking, and then back to sculpture, which in retrospect seems to
have formed the way in which he approaches his artistic production.
That is to say, the overall arc in the body of his work tends to relate
more to filmmaking's project orientation rather than consistent with
the development of a signature style in one medium. Conceptually
speaking, he feels compelled to be more inclusive, while maintaining an
aesthetically reductive sensibility, and finds the use of polemics
helpful in defining his work relative to the human condition. Art is
more than artifice for Richard; it is a way to find one's self and
one's connection with humanity and the universe. He feels that as
science deals with the nature of reality, art shows us what is
After graduating from the University he was offered
an exhibition at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, where he installed the
large wood construction WP 6-10-76 (Newport Wall). In 1977 Richard
moved to Santa Barbara and began work on an exhibition for the Santa
Barbara Museum of Art, which took place in 1978. By the mid- 1980s he
had received a National Endowment Fellowship and placed high in the
Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Competition, and had an established presence
in a local gallery that continued after it later moved to New York.
The 1980s also brought about collaborations with Helen and Newton
Harrison, and then with Garner Tullis for a series of monotypes. Both
involvements resulted in exhibitions of work either in New York and/or
Living in Santa Barbara afforded Richard the opportunity to
build his home and studio, on which he worked over a ten-year period.
During this time his work began to shift away from the sculptural
object and into painting and proposals for architectural spaces, while
he continued to reduce his forms into the symbolic Burners of the
mid-1990s. Painting, for Richard, was a release from the physical
world. Gravity was gone and he could explore the internal mindscape.
He continued to work on paintings until 2001 and the World Trade
Center attacks, which had a profound affect on us all for various
reasons. The conquest of one over the other, good over evil, and
the vulnerability one feels in the face of the unknown, brings us to
his recent work. Richard is currently developing a project that
addresses the nature of conflict -- how one is effected by outside
forces, and the internal struggle that is the result --through a
combination of depictions of figurative forms shown at their most
vulnerable, and nonobjective works that are symbolic of our intellect
and our quest for substance. The project addresses issues that Richard
feels continue to confront us as we push outward while still not coming
to terms with the need to go inward. You can view examples of the
recent works plus a archive dating back to 1969 at:
Museums: Bowers Museum, Santa Ana,CA, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach,CA Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland,CA, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach,CA, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara,CA Periodicals: Art in America, June 1989, review by Walter Thompson
Awards: Honorable Mention, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington DC; National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
2006 Santa Barbara County Art Gallery, CA "The Berry Berkus And Family Art Collection"
2005 "The Figured Obscured;" 2001 "Out Of Line"
1997 Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA; "Multiplicities" Riverside Art Museum, Riverside,CA; "Abstractions: New Work From Santa Barbara" Ventura College Art Gallery, Ventura , CA Richard Aber: Sculpture/Jane Bergunder: Drawing
1991 Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum,Santa Barbara,CA "Active Presences;" Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA, "Santa Barbara Artists" 1990 University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara, "Contemporary Sculpture: The Berkus Collection"
1987 Grey Gallery, New York University, N.Y. "Santa Barbara Sites"
1985 Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, "Inaugural Exhibition Of The Park Wing"
1983 Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA "Black On Black"
1982 Japanese-American Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA "An Artist Living Space;" Galleries of the Claremont Colleges, Claremont, CA "Contemporary Triptychs" 1981 Ohio State University, Columbus, Oh "Artist As Architect/Architect As Artist" 1980 Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA "Art Since 1950;"
1976 Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA "Aber/Buchanan/Holste" 1975 Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Laguna Beach, CA "5 Galleries Of Orange County"