Robert De Niro, Sr. exhibition at DC Moore Gallery

Robert De Niro, Sr. Paintings and Drawings 1960-1993 at DC Moore Gallery, New York. March-April, 2012

Robert De Niro, Sr. Paintings and Drawings 1960-1993 at DC Moore Gallery, New York. March-April, 2012

Robert De Niro, Sr. Paintings and Drawings 1960-1993.  For their first exhibition as the exclusive representatives of the Estate of Robert De Niro, Sr., DC Moore Gallery is presenting a dynamic group of his figure paintings, landscapes, still lifes, and charcoal drawings from 1960-1993.  

DC Moore gallery has published a fully-illustrated catalogue of the exhibition, featuring a scholarly essay about the artist’s work by independent curator, David Moos, formerly curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and an expert on American post-war art.

For more information about the exhibition, or to obtain a copy of the exhibition catalogue, visit the gallery website at

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.

Exhibition: Series and Sequences

Series and Sequences, DC Moore Gallery, March 17-April 30, 2011

Series and Sequences, DC Moore Gallery, March 17-April 30, 2011

New York, DC Moore Gallery:  A group exhibition featuring Romare Bearden, Stuart Davis, Robert De Niro, Sr., and Nathan Oliveira, through April 30, 2011. 

Series and Sequences explores the idea of variations on a theme in the work of four twentieth-century artists who used related imagery or returned to similar imagery over time. Through a select group of paintings and drawings, the exhibit reveals some of the many ways in which artists enter into a dialogue with their own work through series. Organized in conjunction with Never the Same Twice, which features the work of contemporary artists, the exhibition provides a complementary view of a long-standing artistic practice. In 1977, Romare Bearden (1911-1987) created a cycle of collages and watercolors based on episodes from Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. In the complete set of twenty-four watercolors Bearden reinterprets Odysseus’ heroic quest by emphasizing the North African aspects of its Mediterranean setting and using imagery rooted in both classical mythology and African American culture. Bearden created these works at mid-career, perhaps reflecting on his own journey as an artist as well as the historic African American search for home.

The importance of process and of using earlier works as the basis for new compositions are key aspects of the art of Stuart Davis (1892-1964), whose ideas about jazz and improvisation in painting had a significant influence on Bearden. Drawings like those on view were central to his creative practice, just as the act of drawing was the foundation of both his art and his art theory. 

For Robert De Niro, Sr. (1922-1993), an artist who maintained a vibrant consistency in his work for over three decades, a series often meant creating three or four versions of an idea or subject almost simultaneously. The three paintings in the exhibition, all from September 1968, are radical stylizations of architecture in a suburban or small town setting, done in his signature post-Fauve palette with freely brushed areas of color defined by strong outlines. 

Nathan Oliveira (1928-2010) explored the theme of the solitary figure for over fifty years. For him, a series could derive from repeated sessions with a particular model for a brief period of time or a group of related works created over the course of several years. The nudes in the exhibition were done between 1965 and 1972. Their immediacy demonstrates that spontaneity was the essence of Oliveira’s method, resulting in bold, direct works that capture a momentary encounter between artist and model in a burst of creative energy.

Exhibition at Musée Matisse, Nice, France

Nice, France. After Seeing Matisse: Robert DeNiro, Sr. - Paintings and Drawings,through May 31, 2010.

The Musée Matisse presented an exhibition of the works of Robert De Niro, Sr. as part of its mission to promote the works of Matisse through different points of view, on this occasion, as a source of inspiration. The exhibition includes a presentation of photographs of Robert De Niro, Sr. in his New York studio along with figurative paintings, interior studies, still lifes, landscapes, and a series of the artist’s works on paper.

The relationship between the body of work of Robert De Niro, Sr. and the oeuvre of Matisse is seen in numerous works. DeNiro’s female nudes in an interior recall the manner in which Matisse placed his model on an armchair and organized the elements of décor that surround her. Yet unlike Matisse, De Niro’s palette was more muted. The treatment of color, in backgrounds or graphic lines, is organized in more abstract combinations and preserves the movement of the stroke and his improvisation. These differences serve as proof of the space created between the sources of inspiration and the personality of an artist.

In the words of Matisse:

Drawing also counts tremendously. It is the expression of the possession of objects. When you know an object profoundly, you can determine from one exterior line what will define it on the inside.1

There exists then an essential truth to draw from the sight of the objects to be represented. This is the only truth that is important.2

The object is not so interesting in and of itself. It is the context that creates the object. It was in this way that I worked all my life in front of the same objects that gave me the strength of reality by focusing my mind on all that the objects had passed through for me and with me. A glass of water with a flower is a different thing from a glass of water with a lemon. The object is an actor: a good actor can act in ten different plays, an object can play a different role on ten canvases. We don’t take it alone; it evokes a group of elements.3

In still life, copying the objects is nothing; they must be given the emotions that they awaken in one. The emotion of the group, the correlation of objects, the specific character of each object – modified by its relation with others – all that tangled up like a rope or a snake.4

The object must act powerfully on the imagination, the feeling of the artist must be expressed and render the object worthy of interest: it only says what one makes it say.5

The drawings of Matisse in charcoal and pen, like the series Thèmes et variations(1942-1943), the Grand Acrobate (1952) in brush and Chinese ink, and Arbre(Le Platane) (1951), as well as the paintings Intérieur à l’esclave (1924), Figure endormie (1941) represent Matisse’s constant research on the simplification of the line, and are a form of expression adopted in the large drawings of Robert De Niro, Sr., with the same techniques. The lines are erased along with the creation until nothing remains but the final drawing, which breaks free from the stumped surface.

In the words of Robert De Niro, Sr.:

"If I am forced to repeat, until near exhaustion, the same charcoal line over and over again or the same brushstroke while I paint, it is because I am nothing but an “old nag” who knows himself too well and who must endlessly find ways to surprise himself. Not, as many of my colleagues do, by accelerating my gestures in the hope of discovering, as if by accident, surprising bits that I might be able to use later. A comfortable technique that has proven itself, but which I was always careful to be wary of. Just as Hans Hofmann, my former professor, taught me when I was so young, I immediately erase without the least regret anything pretty or particularly good that has appeared on the canvas. That is why I am

surrounded by chamois leather or rags soaked in turpentine when I draw. More than speed, what is important is to erase, always erase, systematically. If, as Picasso assures, painting is “love made visible”, this method is for me the only way to most honestly transmit this light that belongs only to me and that can only reach the spectator once I am in the canvas and not in front of the canvas. All things

considered, the ideal would be to succeed in painting with closed eyes, like children do. This only happens very rarely, two or three times a year. If by luck, fortune chooses to smile on me."