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 Robert De Niro, Sr.  (1922 - 1993)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: mod figure and portrait painting, abstract expression

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Robert De Niro
An example of work by Robert De Niro, Sr.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
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

Bibliography:
Adams, Sam. “The Painter’s Painter,” Flightime (January 1977): 17.
Ashbery, John. “Looking Good on Paper,” New York (June 30, 1980).
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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.
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Campbell, Lawrence. "Review exhibitions." Art in America (July 1995): 86.
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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.
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Ffrench-Frazier, Nina. ‘A New York Letter: Robert De Niro,” Art International 24, no. 1-2 (September/ October 1980): 80-81.
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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.
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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).
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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).
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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.
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Naves, Mario. “The Loaded Brush of Robert De Niro, Sr.,” The New York Observer (January 24, 2000).
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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).
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Raynor, Vivian. “Robert De Niro,” Arts 37 (January 1963): 54.
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Rohrer, Judith. “Robert De Niro’s Figures and Landscapes,” Art Week (April 29, 1978).
Rossenthal, Deborah. “Robert De Niro,” Arts 51 (Febuary, 1977): 8.
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Sawin, Martica. Arts 31 (March 1957).
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44.
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