In November 2010, The Estate of Robert De Niro Sr. announced the creation of The Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize, which annually honors an outstanding mid-career American artist with an award of $25,000 for achievements in painting.

The Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize, which will be administered by the Tribeca Film Institute, has been established to recognize an American artist whose work over a considerable period of time has made a significant contribution to the field of painting.  The prize honors the career and legacy of accomplished painter De Niro, Sr.  A selection committee of distinguished individuals in the art world will be appointed annually to nominate and select three finalists and the prize recipient.  The estate of the late artist will host a group exhibition for the finalists where the winner will be announced. The prize, which is among the first to celebrate and shine a light on mid-career artists, will be funded by Robert De Niro.  The first prize was be awarded in 2011.

“I am proud to honor my father as an artist and pay tribute to his painting through the Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize,” said Robert De Niro. “By annually awarding an American artist who is recognized for exceptional quality in painting, we hope to support artists, like my father, who are making a lifelong commitment to their art.”

The merit-based Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize will afford mid-career artists renewed attention from the art world.

Past recipients of the prize are:

2011: Stanley Whitney

2012: Joyce Pensato

2013: Catherine Murphy

2014: Robert Bordo

2015: Laura Owens

2016: R.H. Quaytman

“Several important prizes in the fine arts celebrate the work of young and emerging artists today.  The Robert De Niro, Sr. prize is unique in that it focuses attention on those artists whose work has consistently shown their commitment to quality and innovation in painting,” said Megan Fox Kelly, the advisor to the estate.

De Niro, Sr. was part of the celebrated New York School of post-war American artists. His work blended abstract and expressionist styles of painting with traditional representational subject matter, bridging the divide between European Modernism and Abstract Expressionism. He studied at the renowned Black Mountain College with Josef Albers, and later with Hans Hofmann in Provincetown and New York, going on to exhibit at Peggy Guggenheim’s renowned Art of this Century gallery in 1945 and 1946, as well as at galleries throughout the U.S. during his career.  In 2010, a retrospective exhibition of his work was presented at the Musee Matisse in Nice, France.  De Niro, Sr.’s work is found in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Parrish Art Museum, among others. The Estate of Robert De Niro, Sr. is represented by DC Moore Gallery, New York, and is advised by Megan Fox Kelly.

There is no application for the prize.  A selection panel of curators, museum directors, journalists and scholars is appointed annually to nominate and select a recipient for the prize.

R. H. Quaytman awarded the 2016 Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize

(NEW YORK, NY) DECEMBER 12, 2016 — Robert De Niro Jr. announced the winner of the 2016 Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, which focuses on a mid-career American artist devoted to the pursuit of excellence and innovation in painting. Award winner R.H. Quaytman will receive this year’s $25,000 prize administered by Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) for her considerable contribution to the field of painting. R.H. Quaytman is the sixth recipient of the merit-based prize, which pays tribute to the work and legacy of accomplished painter Robert De Niro Sr.

Robert De Niro Sr. was part of the celebrated New York School of post-war American artists. In his honor, this award was created by his son and TFI Co-Founder Robert De Niro to support the next generation of American painters.  The Robert De Niro Sr. Prize is among the first of its kind to celebrate and shine a light on influential mid-career artists. Stanley Whitney received the inaugural award in 2011, Joyce Pensato in 2012, Catherine Murphy in 2013, Robert Bordo in 2014, and Laura Owens in 2015.

A selection committee of distinguished individuals in the art world was appointed to nominate candidates and select the prize recipient. It included: Kelly Baum, Curator of Postwar and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy & Steve Crown Family Chief Curator at the Whitney; Katherine Brinson, Curator, Contemporary Art.
 
“Rebecca Quaytman makes some of the smartest, most intriguing paintings in the United States,” stated Baum. “The work she has produced since 2001, which is conceived as a series of chapters, each one based on extensive research, brilliantly triangulates form, content, and structure. It also addresses self-consciously the conditions of its own reception in time and space, just as it considers explicitly the nature of painting and perception today. We wanted to recognize the importance of Quaytman’s work to the history of American painting as well as the crucial role Quaytman played as director of Orchard between 2005 and 2008.”

Brinson continued “R. H. Quaytman's incisive practice explores the critical agency of painting today. Drawing on diverse visual sources and conceptual references, her works cohere into a nuanced meditation on the layered, relational, and highly perspectival interpretive possibilities offered by the painted image.”

Rothkopf added, "The conceptual rigor of Quaytman's work is matched by a surprising emotional sensitivity and timbre.  Her paintings eloquently evoke a poetic sensibility and range of moods that can feel almost expressionistic despite their often mechanical and mediated means."

R.H. Quaytman (b. 1961, Boston, Massachusetts) lives and works in New York, NY. She graduated from Bard college in 1983.

Quaytman is best known for her paintings on wood panels that incorporate photography, digital technologies, and printmaking techniques that are the result of extensive research precipitated by the historical, architectural or social aspects of particular sites. Although each painting can stand alone, they are created in a series and are labeled as “chapters,” showing the successive nature of her work. Quaytman was the recipient of the Rome Prize in 1991, and has since been featured in numerous solo exhibitions, including the Queens Museum in 2001, Miguel Abreu gallery in 2008, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2010,. Her work was prominently featured in the 2010 Whitney Biennale and has been collected by the Whitney, New York, MoMA, New York, Guggenheim, New York, and the Tate Modern, London. In 2006 she joined the faculty as a professor in painting in the Masters of Fine Arts program at her alma mater, Bard college.

 

December 8, 2015

Laura Owens awarded the 2015 Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize

Robert De Niro presents artist Laura Owens with the 2015 Robert De Niro, Sr. prize.

(NEW YORK, NY) — The winner of the 2015 Robert De Niro, Sr. prize has been awarded to mid-career American artist, Laura Owens, who has proven her significance and innovation in the field of painting.  Owens will receive this year’s $25,000 prize administered by the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and she will become the fifth recipient of the merit-based prize, which also pays tribute to the work and legacy of accomplished painter Robert De Niro, Sr.

Robert De Niro Sr. was part of the celebrated New York School of post-war American artists. In his honor, this award was created by his son and TFI Founder Robert De Niro to support the next generation of artistic achievements. Stanley Whitney received the inaugural award in 2011, Joyce Pensato in 2012, Catherine Murphy in 2013 and Robert Bordo in 2014. The Robert De Niro Sr. Prize is among the first of its kind to celebrate and shine a light on influential mid-career artists.

A committee of six prominent individuals in the art world were chosen to nominate candidates and determine the prize recipient. It included: Peter Brant, President of The Brant, Foundation, Inc, Philanthropist and collector; Kelly Baum, Curator of Postwar and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sarah Hanson, Editorial Director at Paddle8; Richard Flood, Chief Curator at the New Museum; Leah Dickerman, Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art. 

Laura Owens (b. 1970, Euclid, Ohio) lives and works in Los Angeles. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the California Institute of Arts. Owen’s paintings first attracted attention in the late 1990s. In 2003 she became the youngest artist ever to be honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Most recently, Owens’ paintings and handmade artists’ books were exhibited at Capitain Petzel, Berlin, Germany; Secession, Vienna; and Zona Maco, Mexico, D.F. Her work will be shown at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art in Spring 2016. 

Owens is known for her large format paintings and a specific visual idiom inspired by references to art history, borrowings from popular and vernacular culture, and the visual traditions of non-Western cultures. She teaches at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. Since 2012 she has operated the exhibition space 356 S Mission in Los Angeles in collaboration with Gavin Brown and Wendy Yao. Owen’s is represented by Gavin Brown Enterprise, Sadie Coles Headquarters, and Galerie Gisela Capitain.

 

December 10, 2014

Robert Bordo awarded 2014 Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize

The Estate of Robert De Niro Sr. is pleased to announce the recipient of the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, which recognizes a mid-career American artist devoted to the pursuit of excellence and innovation in painting. Award winner Robert Bordo, will receive this year’s $25,000 prize, for his considerable contribution to the field of painting. Bordo is the fourth recipient of the merit-based prize, which also pays tribute to the work and legacy of accomplished painter Robert De Niro Sr.

A selection committee of distinguished art profesionals was appointed to nominate candidates and select the prize recipient: Richard Flood, Director of Special Projects and Curator at Large at the New Museum; Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem and Lindsay Pollock, Editor-in-chief of Art in America Magazine.

Richard Flood praises his work, saying “Robert Bordo’s palette is unique. The colors are poured into paintings that hover calmly between the representational and the abstract, refusing to relax into either genre. If beauty and unease are polar extremes in Bordo’s work, there is also humor mostly directed at his profession and the world in which it is practiced.” Lindsay Pollock commented, “Robert Bordo is the epitome of a dedicated painter. His works often appear abstract but are not. Unlike much painting today, there is no spectacle or decorative flourish in his works. They reveal a serious investigation of pictorial space and what paint can do. His longtime role as a teacher at Cooper Union also underscores his commitment to painting.”

On announcing this year’s recipient, Robert De Niro said, “This is the fourth year we’ve honored the legacy of my father and his outstanding work as an artist with the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize. This year, I’m so pleased to award artist, leader and teacher Robert Bordo, whose achievements in painting have continued to drive innovation in the art world.”

This month Bordo was honored at an intimate award ceremony. He was joined by previous award winners, Stanley Whitney and Joyce Pensato, who celebrated his contributions to the field of painting and his unwavering dedication to education in the arts. Upon receiving the prize Bordo spoke about briefly meeting Robert De Niro Sr. during the 1970s while studying at the New York Studio School in New York City where De Niro was teaching at the time. Today, Bordo shares De Niro’s passion for teaching, as Associate Professor of Art and a teacher in the painting program at The Cooper Union.

Bordo’s most recent one-person exhibition was Drawing Installation held at The Suburban in Oak Park, Illinois (2014); he was included in New Paintings at Alexander and Bonin Gallery in New York (2014). Bordo has been the recipient of many prestigious fellowships and grants including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2007, the Canada Council Arts Grant, the Tesuque Foundation Arts Fellowship Award, the MacDowell Colony Fellowship and a Painting Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

In 2003, Bordo was a visiting critic at the Glasgow School of Art and at the Yale University MFA program. In 2007, he was a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. Bordo also collaborated with choreographer, Mark Morris to design sets and costumes for Dido and Aeneas, which was performed in Brussels (1989), at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (1998) and as part of the ‘Mostly Mozart’ Festival at Lincoln Center (2013).

Mr. Bordo’s work is currently on view at the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City as part of the exhibit, "12 Painters: The Studio School, 1974-2014," through January 17th.

 

January 24, 2014

Catherine Murphy awarded 2013 Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize

NEW YORK – The Estate of Robert De Niro Sr. announced the winner of the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize which focuses on a mid-career American artist devoted to the pursuit of excellence and innovation in painting. Award winner Catherine Murphy will receive this year’s $25,000 prize administered by the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) for her considerable contribution to the field of painting. Murphy is the third recipient of the merit-based prize, which pays tribute to the work and legacy of accomplished painter Robert De Niro Sr.

Robert De Niro Sr. was part of the celebrated New York School of post-war American artists. In his honor, this award was created by his son and TFI Founder Robert De Niro to support the next generation of artistic achievements. Stanley Whitney received the inaugural award in 2011 and Joyce Pensato received the next year’s award in 2012. The Robert De Niro Sr. Prize is among the first of its kind to celebrate and shine a light on influential mid-career artists.

“I am honored to present Catherine Murphy with this award for her outstanding work as a painter and teacher, and to continue to honor my father as an artist through the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize,” said Robert De Niro.

A selection committee of distinguished individuals in the art world was appointed to nominate candidates and select the prize recipient. It included: Susan Davidson, Senior Curator, Collections and Exhibitions at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York; Editor-in-Chief at Art in America magazine, Lindsay Pollock; artist, Wall Street Journal art critic, author of the novel “The Art Critic,” Peter Plagens; and art historian and scholar Robert Storr, Yale University’s Dean of the School of Art.

In praising her work, the panelists jointly stated, “Catherine is devoted to painting. She takes a long hard look and sees things that others would have missed. Her work is seemingly absolutely consistent and yet it is surprising in each individual iteration. It is very much about the process of painting.”

Currently living in Poughkeepsie, New York, Murphy studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and received a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1967, where she was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree in 2006. Murphy has also been distinguished with National Endowment for the Arts Grants (1979 and 1989), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1982) and as a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (2002). She was a Senior Critic at Yale University Graduate School of Art for 22 years and is currently the Tepper Family Endowed Chair in Visual Arts at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers.

Catherine Murphy’s work has been the focus of museum exhibitions, from her first in 1976 to a recent exhibition at the Byrdcliffe Kleinert/James Center for the Arts in Woodstock, New York. Works by Murphy are in important private and public collections, including Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Thomas Olbricht Collection, Berlin.

Murphy’s recent paintings and drawings show a profound interest in depicting common surroundings that usually escape our notice but nevertheless influence our perception: a pile of dust or the stains found on a wall shift views usually unseen to become images that demand our full attention. Murphy does not work from photographs but, instead, directly from objects staged in her studio to recreate mental images drawn from memory and dreams. Her practice requires intense dedication to each work, a prolonged process that can take months, sometimes even years. The choice between drawing or painting is, as the artist explains, determined by the subject itself, giving painting and drawing the same importance within the artist’s oeuvre.

 

December 18, 2012

Joyce Pensato awarded 2012 Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize

NEW YORK — Joyce Pensato is the recipient of the 2012 Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, an annual award honoring an outstanding mid-career American painter. Brooklyn-based Joyce Pensato will receive the $25,000 award, administered by the Tribeca Film Institute, for her considerable contribution to the field of painting. Pensato is the second recipient of the merit-based prize, which pays tribute to the work and legacy of accomplished painter De Niro Sr. Painter Stanley Whitney received the inaugural award —among the first to celebrate and shine a light on mid-career artists—in 2011.

A selection committee of distinguished individuals in the art world was appointed to nominate candidates and select the prize recipient. Pensato was selected by a jury including Betsy Baker, former editor of Art in America Magazine; art collector and television executive Douglas Cramer, founder and former President of the Board of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and longtime Trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; John Yau, poet and art critic for The Brooklyn Rail and Professor of art criticism at Rutgers University; and Robert Storr, Yale University’s Dean of the School of Art.

“Like my father, Joyce Pensato has truly demonstrated a lifelong commitment to her art,” said Robert De Niro. “I am proud to recognize her exceptional work and to continue to honor my father as an artist through the Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize.”

John Yao praises Pensato’s work saying, “The great thing about Pensato’s drawings and paintings is that they are neither overtly political nor boringly literal. Pensato is one of the few artists who didn’t find it necessary to reject her early training in order to gain her authority. If anything, she made it into something all her own, which is a strong indication of how willful and single-minded she is.”
Robert Storr added, “For all the promotional talk about artists who just go at it their own way there aren’t very many who really run that risk, and fewer still who run it year in and year out over decades. Joyce Pensato has and continues to do so. The results are full tilt, high gear, Id-driven images that freely, even piratically take from popular culture but which, when she is finished with its icons, look like nothing we’ve seen before. Pensato’s work is a jolt of manic energy of a kind we desperately need, a kind that can’t be faked and that few have the strength to muster much less the stamina to sustain.”
 

Joyce Pensato was born in Brooklyn to a Sicilian immigrant father and an Italian-American mother. In the early 1970s, she enrolled in the New York Studio School, where one of her instructors was Mercedes Matter, who founded the school in 1964. At the New York Studio School, Pensato studied with instructors who taught drawing in a way that recalled Giacometti’s emotion-laden work, and was encouraged to draw in paint. She continued to explore this foundation in drawing and painting throughout her career.
Pensato draws in charcoal and paints in enamel. For years her palette has been black, white and silver, though color is beginning to make an appearance in her recent paintings. Her drawing process is one of making marks, rubbing them out and making more marks, with line being the essential form. In her paintings, the line is made of enamel that initially appears to have been applied quickly, though its varying densities and its field of drips and splatters makes it clear that it wasn’t done in a single shot. In both drawing and painting Pensato is committed to finding the linear form that captures her subject matter, the cartoon characters and toys of contemporary American culture.
 

Pensato lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She has exhibited widely, including in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the St. Louis Art Museum; The Speed Museum of Art, Louisville; and The Cleveland Museum of Art. Her work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; The Dallas Museum of Art; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the FRAC des Pays de la Loire, France, among others. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship; the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award; the Anonymous Was A Woman Award; and most recently the 2012 Award of Merit Medal in Painting from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She will have her first solo museum exhibition, curated by Jeffrey Uslip, at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in June of 2013. She attended the New York Studio School.
 

November 17, 2011

Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize awarded to Stanley Whitney

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.”