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 Peter Ruta  (1918 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/New Mexico / Italy      Known for: landscape and cityscape painting-buildings

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Peter  Ruta
An example of work by Peter Ruta
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Peter Ruta is an American painter of landscapes and cityscapes. He signs his work "Ruta" or not at all.

Born 1918 into a Leipzig family of writers, musicians and art publishers, Ruta was raised in Milan and on the Italian Riviera and emigrated to the United States in 1936.  He began his studies at the Art Students League in 1937 with Jean Charlot, the artist who taught Italian fresco technique to the great Mexican muralists.

Offered the position of division artist in the Second World War, Ruta chose combat duty with the infantry (Indiana National Guard) and was badly wounded in the retaking of Bataan in 1945. Returning to Italy post-war, he completed his studies on a Fulbright grant and painted for many years in the then poor fishing village of Positano on the Amalfi coast. The émigré neo Romantics he had met in New York City before the war, Italian baroque and Pompeian wall paintings, influenced his work.

In New York City in the 1960s, he edited ARTS magazine and joined the Pop movement with paintings based on news photos.  But by 1970 he had returned to his first love, landscape painting.

He has painted in France, Italy, southern Mexico (1970s), New Mexico (1980s and1990s), New England and New York City, where he shared a collective studio on the 9lst floor of the World Trade Center, North Tower in 2000 and 2001.

An outdoor painter by temperament and conviction, he has been known to tie himself to a tree on a steep slope in New Mexico or work right through the bitter winter on a New York rooftop.  He paints every day of the week, from midday till sundown, in a race against the failing light.  Since 2002 he has worked on a series of vital, mysterious still life paintings , mountainous heaps of fruit and vegetables, indoor landscapes so to speak.

Museums have celebrated Ruta’s remarkable career with major retrospective shows at the Museum of the City of New York (2004) and the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig (2008).  A show in Italy is in the planning stages.

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
ART IN REVIEW: Peter Ruta, 'Picturing New York', The New York Times, September 10, 2004, by Ken Johnson

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue, at 103rd Street
Through Oct. 11

This show of Manhattan cityscapes from four decades by the octogenarian painter Peter Ruta inaugurates a series of exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York called ''Picturing New York.'' Mr. Ruta, who has been picturing the city regularly from direct observation since he moved into Westbeth, the West Village artists' building, in 1970, opts for simplification. Working outdoors on the roof or looking from his studio windows, he removes the chaotic surface clutter and reduces the city to its architectural bare bones.

Over the years his style has changed only slightly from a more hard-edged emphasis on structure and contrasts of light and shadow in the 1970's and 80's to a softer focus and pastel colors. Devoid of people, cars and windows, the city in Mr. Ruta's paintings has an uninhabited, cemeterylike feeling that calls to mind de Chirico and Hopper.

But Mr. Ruta's vision is less psychologically loaded. He favors a benign formalist neutrality that often leads to blandness. At his best, as in an expansive diptych from 1979 that measures 5 1/2 by 9 feet or in a large view painted with an uncharacteristically lively, Impressionistic touch from a studio window near the top of one of the World Trade Center towers in 2000, Mr. Ruta pictures New York as a Platonic dream of complex but well-ordered geometry.


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