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About the Artist

Statement by the Artist

One thing I have most wonderfully learned is that the greatest reward for making art is making art. 


Instinctively I knew that painting and exhibiting were the only essentials I needed, and whatever difficulties I encountered along my path, there was always the reassurance of working and learning. 

I was working and showing right from the start, and it never occurred to me to wonder if I would be successful or not. In the beginning, it was very challenging, mostly because there was no sure way to do it, no rules, no guideposts. 

For about ten years my painting was lyrical, energetic, filled with bright color, and charged with exuberance. At the same time, the poetry I was writing was dark, angry, and often painful to create. 


When I stopped writing in the early 1960s, my paintings took on the characteristics of my poetry and became infused with anger, a dark monochromatic palette, gravitas, and occasionally slightly surreal themes.  


It was only after a few years when my lyricism began to re-surface and meld with the darkness. This was the beginning of my mature style. 

The life of an artist is about the art. I have lived my life as I dreamed of doing as a young man.


Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1931, Kipniss studied at the Art Students League in 1947, Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio from 1948-50, and the University of Iowa, receiving a BA degree in English literature in 1952, and an MFA in painting and art history in 1954.   


Kipniss, one of the most accomplished living American printmakers, worked in stone lithography during his early career, then mostly in mezzotint since the early 1990s. He is considered a true master of this technique's delicate interplay between darkness and light. 


The artist has painted prolifically in oil all his life. Like in his prints, his subject is the natural world, notably shadowed landscapes with trees, bushes, dwellings, and hills. The mood is often one of silence, solitude, intensity, and mystery. Over the years his palette has become one of primarily muted shades of grays and greens and the soft light of dusk and darkness. 


In the United States, the artist's work is in the collections of many important museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.   


Around the world, his work is held by the prestigious British Museum and the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers in London, the Albertina in Vienna, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, among other museums.

Journal of the Print World:
Robert Kipniss Celebrates 55 Years of Printmaking

Article by Sarah Kirk Hanley

Robert Kipniss's art, which centers the transcendent power of the natural world — particularly trees — has long spoken to the eternal theme of hu - mankind's experience of the natural environment. He has consistently cited the restorative experience of escaping to the woods as the wellspring of his art: "When I am in these places, I find a deeper part of myself that brings me peace." In a career that now spans over seven decades, Kipniss has found endless variations in this subject through painting, drawings and printmaking, but the latter has become increasingly dominant.


At 91, Kipniss remains intensely engaged in his practice, remarking "Even after all these years I still find making art deeply fulfilling and exciting."


Since 1967, the artist has created over 700 original lithographs and intaglios. He explains, "It isn't work as much as it is an indulgence of an all-consuming pleasure drive." Printmaking remains a daily activity that grounds him and provides joy; the only changes that have come with advanced age are a reduction in the number of impressions printed, and the dimensions of the plates with which he works. Since 2017 he has worked in medium and smaller formats, 12 inches and under in any direction; editions are 18 and fewer impressions, with no artist's proofs. [Continue reading...]

Works in Selected Public Collections 

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. CA 
Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
The British Museum, London
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England
Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI
Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC
Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, NJ
University of Richmond Museums, Richmond, VA
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Minnesota Museum of American Art, Saint Paul, MN
Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MI
Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY
Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Pinakothek der Moderne, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich
Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England
Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO
Syracuse University Art Gallery, Syracuse, NY
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT