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 Robert Joseph McIntosh  (1916 - 2010)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: abstract landscape painting, animation

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Robert Joseph McIntosh
An example of work by Robert Joseph McIntosh
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Biography from Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery (Artists I-Q):
Robert McIntosh grew up in Stockton, California, where he was influenced by landscape painter Arthur Haddock.  He studied at San Francisco's California School of Fine Arts where he won an scholarship to the Art Center in Los Angeles.

In 1939 he began painting backgrounds for Disney Studios; in the Air Force he did training films under Ronald Reagan (then an actor).  In the 1950s he worked at UPA, and in the 1960s and 1970s freelanced for MGM, Warner Bros., and Hanna Barbera.

Now retired from studio work, McIntosh paints landscapes of the Los Angeles area; since the 1960s, his work has become more abstract.

He has exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Art (1938), the Oakland Art Gallery (1938, 1939), Crocker Art Gallery (solo, 1938), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (first prize, 1948 and purchase prize 1949).

Edan Milton Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

Biography from Trigg Ison Fine Art Inc.:
Robert McIntosh (1916 – 2010)

Obituary. June, 2010

Robert McIntosh was born on March 11, 1916, near San Francisco, in Vallejo, California, the second son of Harry and Jesusita Coronado McIntosh.  He found his lifelong passion for painting by the time he was ten years old and never swayed from his calling.

The family moved to Stockton when Robert was 12.  Their home was just six blocks from the newly opened Haggin Museum, filled with a treasure trove of European and American paintings.  He became particularly enamored with the fine examples of 19th century French pastoral landscapes.  As teens, Robert and his brother Harrison befriended local painter Arthur Haddock who taught them the craft of art and brought them along on outdoor painting trips.  Robert also became skilled at drawing portraits that captured the subject's personality.  Soon, the sheer joy of expressing himself this way became a consuming interest.

When not sketching, McIntosh would wander the stacks of books at the public library, discovering and studying the Masters - in particular, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Whistler.  At a Gauguin exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, Robert discovered a “whole new world of color” and the importance of designing the space in the eternal rectangle. "I envision a frame around everything I see," he admitted. "The artists' challenge is to put something meaningful, interesting or beautiful in that space."

In 1934 McIntosh won a competition for a scholarship to the Art Center School of Design, the first award they ever bestowed.  The entire family moved to Los Angeles and a new vista opened to the young artist, both visually and culturally.  Robert began to take on portrait commissions and had exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Art, The Oakland Museum of Art and the Crocker Museum of Art in Sacramento.

During the Great Depression, Robert began to work at Disney Studios painting backgrounds for such classics as “Fantasia”. Ron Barbagallo, of Animation Art Conservation, recalls that “Bob was a window into a time at Disney few could ever speak about. In better economic times he could have been working as a Fine Artist, but instead took a steady job at Disney working under Dick Anthony.  Bob helped define the look of the opening scene in "Pinocchio," the red mud footprints where the Dinosaurs died in "The Rite of Spring" and the meadow in "Bambi."

In 1939, he met fellow artist Helen Nerbovig who also worked at the Disney Studios.  They married the following year and had one daughter, Georgiana, named after Helen’s mother.  They became art collectors & patrons traveling widely over the years.  Their creative collaboration continued until Helen's death in 1992.

In 1942 he was drafted and assigned to Jack Warner's first motion picture unit for the Air Force at the Hal Roach Studios.  After the war, he worked for UPA and freelanced for MGM, Warner Bros., and Hanna Barbera.  Meanwhile, always painting, his work was included in annual exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Robert worked in many mediums including watercolor, oil and collage, from Realism to Abstraction for more than 80 years.  In 2000 he became the first living artist ever selected to be part of the Corbis Fine Art Collection.  In 2007, he was introduced to Trigg Ison through mutual friend, Charlotte Sherman.  The result was a rewarding creative association between artist and representative for the last years of Robert’s life. Trigg Ison Fine Art is the exclusive representative of the original art of Robert McIntosh.

Robert McIntosh lived in Bel Air, California, where he continued to sketch and paint daily.  Devoted to his family, his church and a wide circle of friends, his warmth and charm endeared him to all.  But painting was his lifelong companion - through love and war, peace and turmoil, births and deaths – it was his way of communicating, his contribution and his legacy.

It takes tremendous commitment to follow one’s vision throughout a lifetime. He was working on his “best painting” only days before he died at home on June 17, 2010 at the age of 94, his family and loved ones with him. He is survived by his daughter Jorjana Kellaway, his grandson, Colin Kellaway and his brother, Harrison McIntosh.

Trigg Ison Fine Art

Information provided by Catherine McIntosh, the artist's niece.

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