Robert Kipniss, painter and printmaker, was born in New York City in 1931. Born to two artists, Kipniss quickly fostered his love for art. His formal artistic education began at New York City’s acclaimed Art Students League in 1947. During his college years, Kipniss alternated between focusing his attention on an education in literature and one in fine art. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Iowa in 1952 and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Art History from the same school in 1954.
Early on in his career, Kipniss abandoned a brief flirtation with biomorphic abstraction and began his life-long obsession with what he calls “finding expression in the images of landscape and still-life”. A master print-maker, Kipniss’s mezzotints are elegiac, haunting and austere; inky darknesses are set off by stark white, sinuous lines and hazy grey shadows. In many of his landscapes, an almost unnatural glow seeps into the composition, leaving the viewer with a strange combination of familiarity and uncertainty. The viewer can imagine that Kipniss is re-creating what he knows, a wraith-like observer of sparse landscapes, neighborhoods and forests; all caught between dusk and sunset, night and sunrise. The stillness in both his oil work and printmaking is, at times, exquisitely unnerving.
Though the scenes hint at the presence of life, Kipniss’ works are devoid of people, and although at face value they may simply appear to explore the stark subjects they feature, Kipniss captures something profound. “If someone looks at my paintings and sees only trees and houses then they don’t see what I’m doing,” Kipniss has said. “I may be painting trees and houses but when I look at them – that’s not what I see. I see an atmosphere, a moment, a quickly passing experience that I’m trying to capture. My art is of intensity, of delving, of exploring the soul.”
The superficially nostalgic domain, the hint of a subtext, the masterfully rendered landscape, and the subtly surreal nature of Kipniss’s work cast a broad appeal to collectors worldwide. Robert Kipniss is represented in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The British Museum, the Albertina, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, and the Pinakothek der Moderne, among others. His international appeal, along with his 60 year successful career, make him one of the most widely collected living artists of our time, and a living artistic master.