Still Life and Chair, 1959
oil on canvas, 50 x 42 inches
Artwork courtesy the Estate of Robert De Niro, Sr.
Robert De Niro Sr. was born in Syracuse, New York in 1922, and at the age of 17 he enrolled at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, an experimental school for art. He studied further with the abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann before settling in New York City in 1943. There De Niro became part of a bohemian circle of artists and writers that included the painter Jackson Pollack and playwright Tennessee Williams, with whom he waited tables. While he gained critical praise early on for his semi-abstract paintings, De Niro’s career was often marked by poverty. Despite such hardship, he remained committed to his art until his death in 1993.
De Niro’s passion for the medium of painting is evident in the exuberant brushwork and calligraphic lines of works such as Still Life with Chair, which Hallmark purchased in 1960. In recent years De Niro’s art has gained renewed interest, in part through the efforts of his son, the actor Robert De Niro, who has also preserved his father’s studio in his honor. His legacy has been extended by the Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize which is awarded annually to an outstanding mid-career American artist.
My approach to still life painting is the same as to a figure or landscape in that I am interested in color, drawing and composition, regardless of the subject matter.
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