Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize awarded to Stanley Whitney

Stanley Whitney, recipient of the first Robert De Niro, Sr prize in 2011.

Stanley Whitney, recipient of the first Robert De Niro, Sr prize in 2011.

NEW YORK -- The Estate of Robert De Niro Sr. today announced the inaugural recipient of The Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, an annual award which honors an outstanding mid-career American painter. New York-based artist Stanley Whitney will receive the $25,000 award, administered by the Tribeca Film Institute, for his considerable contribution to the field of painting. The merit based prize--among the first to celebrate and shine a light on mid-career artists--honors the work and legacy of accomplished painter De Niro, Sr. 

A selection committee of distinguished individuals in the art world was appointed to nominate candidates and select the prize recipient. Whitney was selected by a jury including Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; Agnes Gund, President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art and Chairman of its International Council and Chairman of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission of the City of New York; Barry Schwabsky, art critic for The Nation; and Robert Storr, Yale University’s Dean of the School of Art.

“Stanley’s work and the way he practices his craft both show what this prize is all about—honoring a person with great passion for and lifelong commitment to art,” said Robert De Niro. “I am so proud to pay tribute to my father through this inaugural prize in his name, and to recognize and support an artist who has achieved so much throughout his career.” 

In a statement, the jury added: “For the recipient of the first Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, we have selected a painter who represents the spirit of commitment, independence, and invention that marked De Niro’s own work as an artist. Stanley Whitney proves that you can be a traditionalist without being a conservative. His concerns are those of painters from the Venetians through Delacroix to the Abstract Expressionists: color, light, and a sense of movement communicated through visual rhythm—but his painting is a continual adventure in these realms that he shows to be without limit. For many years he has worked with a consistent set of structuring devices but has used them as a basis for more than just variations on a theme, for the true structural basis of Whitney’s art is color, not shape, and he rediscovers it anew each time. It continued, “Keeping faith with the open possibilities of painting, Whitney has been not only admired by his peers but an inspiration to younger artists, both through his paintings and as a teacher. Over his nearly four decades of teaching, Whitney has not only taught young artists about the process and practice of art, but instilled in his students a deep understanding of art in its truest forms beyond the whims of fashion. We are pleased to offer the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize to an artist who so ardently interprets the sense of life through the fundamentals of painting.” 

About the Tribeca Film Institute:

The Tribeca Film Institute is a 501(c)(3) year-round nonprofit arts organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001.   TFI empowers filmmakers through grants and professional development, and is a resource for and supporter of individual artists in the field. The Institute’s educational programming leverages an extensive film community network to help underserved New York City students learn filmmaking and gain the media skills necessary to be productive citizens and creative individuals in the 21st century. Administering a dozen major programs annually, TFI is a critical contributor to the fabric of filmmaking and aids in promoting and protecting filmmakers and media artists.