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 Virginia Holton Admiral  (1915 - 2000)

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Lived/Active: New York/California      Known for: social issue themed painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Virginia Holton Admiral or Virginia De Niro (February 4, 1915 – July 20, 2000) was an American painter and poet. Her former husband was painter Robert De Niro, Sr., and they are the parents of actor Robert De Niro.

Admiral was born in Oregon, the daughter of Alice Caroline (née Groman), a school teacher, and Donald Admiral, a grain broker. Admiral was a Presbyterian; her father had English, Irish, German, French, and Dutch ancestry, and her mother was of German descent. In 1920, she was residing in Danville, Illinois according to the census, with her parents and younger sister, Eleanor. By 1930, Virginia's parents had divorced and she was living with her mother and sister in Berkeley, California. While in Berkeley, her mother became a school teacher.

She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1938, she worked on the Federal Art Project, in Oakland, California. While living in Berkeley, California, she had been part of an off-campus art and socialist and literary scene. Having traveled together from California to Greenwich Village, New York, Admiral was an intimate friend of poet Robert Duncan throughout the 1940s as well as other artists and writers in the Village scene. Among them was Anais Nin and Kenneth Patchen. Admiral, a painter, met Robert De Niro, Sr., an aspiring artist, at one of Hans Hofmann's painting classes in Provincetown, Massachusetts. They moved into an loft apartment on E. 14th Street, then 8th Street, then settled into one on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. They married in December 1941. In August 1943, Virginia gave birth to their son, award-winning actor and director, Robert De Niro, Jr.

For a time she worked as a typist for Anaïs Nin. Both she and husband Robert wrote erotica briefly for Nin. She and Robert De Niro divorced in 1945, but remained close throughout their lives. When Robert Sr. was stricken with cancer, she took him in during his last years.[6] Later, in New York, she wrote for True Crimes magazine. She was active in political movements against the Vietnam War and for the rights of artists and the poor. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

    •    Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography by Lisa Jarnot; University of California Press, 2012
    •    Untouchable: A Biography of Robert De Niro by Andy Dougan; Da Capo Press, 2003

"Virginia Admiral: Notable American Women", Wikipedia, (Accessed 9/20/2014)

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Dalles, OR on Feb. 4, 1915. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Admiral studied at the AIC. During the 1930s she worked in Oakland on the Federal Art Project. Leaving California in 1940, she settled in NYC and continued her art training at the Hans Hofmann School. She remained there until her demise on July 27, 2000. She was the mother of movie actor Robert DeNiro. In: Guggenheim Collection (Venice); MOMA; MM.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Interview with the artist or his/her family; SF Chronicle, 8-16-2000 (obituary).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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