Robert S. Neuman: Sixty Years in Paint
September 27 – November 12, 2017
BOSTON, MA – Childs Gallery is proud to present Robert S. Neuman: Sixty Years in Paint, an exhibition celebrating the prolific career of American artist Robert S. Neuman (1926-2015). Over the course of more than six decades, Neuman – a second-generation Abstract Expressionist – bridged the gap between gestural and geometric abstraction. His richly pigmented paintings fuse form, content, and vibrant color to explore the visual language of landscape, voyage, and globalization.
Robert S. Neuman: Sixty Years in Paint is on view at Childs Gallery from September 27 through November 12, 2017. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, September 27th from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Childs Gallery’s show coincides with a major retrospective exhibition of Neuman’s work, Impulse and Discipline: 60 Years of Painting by Robert S. Neuman, 1950 – 2010, at Keene State College’s Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery, on view from September 22 through December 6, 2017.
Robert S. Neuman (American, 1926 – 2015), Pedazos del Mundo #8, 1961, Oil on linen, 60 x 60 inches
A prolific painter, Neuman’s career spanned more than six decades. From 1947 to 1953 Neuman was active in the San Francisco Bay Area, completing his Master of Fine Arts degree at the California College of the Arts in 1951 and holding faculty appointments at the San Francisco College of Fine Arts and the California College of Arts and Crafts. While in California, he exhibited alongside a number of established and emerging West Coast painters, including Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Wayne Thiebaud, and Clyfford Still. The influence of the Bay Area School is evident in Neuman’s use of broad surface treatments, calligraphic drawings, energized expression, and a full color palette.
In 1953, Neuman was awarded a Fulbright Grant for painting, which brought him to Stuttgart, Germany to study with the abstract artist Willi Baumeister. In 1956, he received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship which allowed him to spend a year in Barcelona, Spain. In between these prestigious awards, Neuman left California and settled on the East Coast, where he went on to teach at SUNY New Paltz, NY, Massachusetts College of Art, MA, Brown University, RI, Harvard University, MA, and Keene State College, NH. As a result of his travels, Neuman’s oeuvre illustrates a remarkable combination of influences, imbuing his paintings with a dramatic universality.
Neuman has worked in series throughout his career, each one representing a response to a different symbol, place, or idea, and each with its own distinct visual language. Neuman's first major series was The Black Paintings, catalyzed by his experience studying in post-war Germany as a Fulbright Fellow in 1953. His Barcelona Series, begun in 1956 during his time studying in Barcelona as a Guggenheim Fellow, reflects the city’s culture with bright colors and broad, gestural brush strokes. In the 1960s, Neuman’s art evolved into geometric abstraction, often verging on symbolism. The Pedazos del Mundo, begun in 1961, use the recurring visual language of concentric circles to symbolize the many fragmentations of our world. Space Signs, begun in 1966, continues to use the symbol of the circle to create bright, crowded geometric landscapes. In 1980, Neuman began the Lame Deer Series, vivid chromatic representations of the Western American landscape, inspired by a visit to a Native American reservation near Lame Deer, Montana. Other series include Abstract Figures, Abstract Landscapes, Alhambra, Diamond Canvases, Mirage, Rose Paintings, Stacks and Piles, Voyage, and his Ship to Paradise prints.
Neuman’s work is in numerous public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Boston Public Library; Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH; DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA; Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME; Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA; Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA; List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA; and many others.
Robert S. Neuman (American, 1926 – 2015), Space Signs #3, 1968, Oil on linen, 72 x 84 inches