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 Robert Cenedella  (1940 - )

About: Robert Cenedella


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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts      Known for: satirical crowd genre, city life, mural

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted October 2004, is from Chris Concannon, representative of the artist.

Robert Cenedella was born in 1940 in Milford, Massachusetts, and grew up in New York City. His family both recognized his talent in art (he was copying drawings at age four) and nurtured his social conscience. In the 1950s his father, a writer for radio, was black listed for his political beliefs. Cenedella took his own principled stand when as a student he was expelled from the High School of Music and Art for an article opposing atom bomb drills.

He continued his education at the Art Students League, studying with George Grosz, whose scathing depictions of German society became a major influence on the young painter. In 1988, Cenedella inherited his mentor's chair at the League as an instructor of drawing and painting.

Beyond Grosz's example, Cenedella's vision of painting as cultural and political satire was shaped by a whole lineage of artists beginning with Bruegel, through Goya, Hogarth, and Daumier, all the way to the 20th-century American painters Thomas Hart Benton, Reginald Marsh, and Grant Wood.

Cenedella sees his work as history painting that describes the foibles and hypocrisies of contemporary America. The object of his derisive wit has been America's pursuit of corporate and military power, and its obsession with money, materialism, and sports.

Cenedella's primary subjects have been urban life, the vitality of the city street, and the crowd,with its contentious, fun-loving, and sometimes bizarre cast of characters.

Having established himself as a painter in New York in the early 1960s, Cenedella began showing his work, including the notable exhibition, Yes Art,a spoof of Pop Art at the Fitzgerald Gallery. For ten years, beginning in 1965, the artist ran a poster design and printing company. In the mid-1970s, Cenedella's mature painting style emerged, and he began exhibiting his work widely, including at a gallery in Paris, in a 1985 exhibition sponsored by Jacques Chirac, then mayor of Paris.

In 1988, he had a solo exhibition at the headquarters of Saatchi and Saatchi in New York, and in 1994 a retrospective of his work was held in Berlin in conjunction with the George Grosz Centennial Exhibition. A retrospective of Cenedella's political work, sponsored by The Nation Institute, was held at the executive offices of The Nation magazine in New York in 2003.

Cenedella's work is in many private and corporate collections, and has been featured in three Absolut Vodka ads. He has created murals for the famous Le Cirque restaurants in New York and Mexico City. His 1994 concept of selling shares in a painting about stock market speculation was covered in a "New York Times" article, and the March 2004 exhibition at Le Cirque 2000 in New York, "Revival of Easel Painting", continues his interest in lampooning the art world.

Cenedella's art and life are the subject of a forthcoming book and documentary film. The artist lives and works in New York.

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