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 Robert Gilbert  (1907 - 1988)

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Lived/Active: California/Indiana      Known for: industrial figure and genre, portrait

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of a Woman, 1931
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Indiana on Feb. 22, 1907. Gilbert was an alumnus of the Chouinard School of Art. By 1930 he had settled in Santa Ana and was active in the local art scene. His work Industrial Scene was featured in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 7, 1934. He died in Santa Ana, CA on July 28, 1988. Exh: Laguna Beach AA, 1930-32; Painters & Sculptors of LA, 1930-38; SFAA, 1931, 1941; Progressive Painters of So. Calif.; Hollywood Library, 1932; Pasadena Art Inst., 1933; Foundation of Western Art (LA), 1933-40; SFMA, 1935; LACMA, 1940; Calif. WC Society, 1942.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Census; California Arts and Architecture list, 1932; Ferdinand Perret Files; Death record
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.

Biography from Spencer Jon Helfen Fine Arts:
One of many American artists forced to give up his career during the Depression -- and twice more during his lifetime -- Robert Gilbert nonetheless is remembered as an American Scene and Regionalist artist. During the Depression, his work for the Santa Ana Gas Company gave Gilbert an opportunity to observe the local scene. He used that material as the basis for a number of noteworthy figural works -- most often depicting either female figures in repose against agricultural backgrounds, or male figures posed in front of semi-abstract industrial scenes. Although his work at the time reflected the lives of local workers, he was not a Social Realist -- his work simply depicted reality without condemning big business.

Gilbert's work is readily recognized by its figures created in the bold, simplified tubular forms typical of 1930s art, and for its strong design and composition. Typically, one or more figures dominate the foreground, while the background takes on secondary importance.

Some of his 1930s canvases were studies of the heads of girls, offering a raw energy emblematic of the Mexican aesthetic that pervaded Southern California art at the time. Later in life, Gilbert again left his art career, running a gift shop, working as an architectural designer, and working for the Fluor Corporation. But with his retirement came another opportunity to paint, and Gilbert returned once more to his favorite genres: figures and portraits.

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