On June 28, 2014, the HBO Documentary film, “Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr.” was presented at The Aspen Ideas Festival. Produced by the prestigious The Aspen Institute, The Aspen Ideas Festival is the nation's premiere public gathering place for leaders from around the globe to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times. Some 350 presenters, 200 sessions, and 3000 attendees comprise the annual Festival, launched in 2005, on the Aspen Institute's campus in Aspen, Colorado.
Every year the festival brings together the most inspired and provocative thinkers, writers, artists, business people, teachers, and other leaders from a myriad of fields to teach and engage with visitors and participants. Following the screening of “Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr.,” Director Perri Peltz, art advisor Megan Fox Kelly, CEO of Tribeca Enterprises Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro, conducted an informative question and answer session. The panel fielded questions from industry professionals, scholars and fans of Robert De Niro Sr.’s art.
As a member of the renowned New York school of post-war American artists, Robert De Niro Sr. is celebrated for his vibrant paintings that synthesized traditional subject matter with modernist abstraction, bridging the gap between European modernism and Abstract Expressionism. As the political and cultural climate in America continued to shift in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the art world embraced Abstract Expressionism and the emergence of Pop Art. Figurative expressionist painters, like De Niro, were marginalized to the outskirts of the commercial art world. Although De Niro's primary period of commercial and critical success was brief, he remained well known and respected within the art world throughout his career.
While answering questions from the audience, the entire panel emphasized their dedication to preserving Robert De Niro Sr.’s artwork and his legacy as an important American artist. Mrs. Kelly said, "I think what he wanted was what any artist wants, which is to be seen. To be seen as a person and to have his art be seen and maybe even to be understood and to be known. I don't know that that really happened for him but it's part of our ongoing work to continue to show his work in galleries and museums."
Robert De Niro explained to the audience that this project initially began as a documentary for his family archives and close friends; however, he realized the importance of sharing his father’s art with the world. To create the film, De Niro obtained film footage of his dad from a man who followed the artist with a camera in the 1970s and gave the material to Thelma Schoonmaker — Martin Scorsese’s longtime editor — who helped to put it in order. He also lent his father’s personal journals to Peltz and Rosenthal, which he reads from on camera.
For the future, De Niro hopes that his father’s paintings will continue to be shown in museums and galleries around the world and collected by individuals who will preserve his legacy. He said, “I want them to be cherished the way he cherished them and I cherish them.”
For more information about “Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr.” and the watch the film on HBO Go visit: http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/remembering-the-artist-robert-de-niro-sr#/