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Robert Kipniss: A Working Artist's Life

Published by the University Press of New England, 2011


In this candid memoir, Kipniss recounts the ups and downs of his early career, the failures and successes of gallery exhibitions and gaining recognition, and the joys and struggles of trying to support a family as an artist, all while tenaciously developing his unique style of landscape painting.

      "Poetry and painting were equal passions of mine until I turned thirty and became a father, and I had to earn more money. Getting an evening job meant making a choice, and I stayed with painting, shelving my writing as something I would return to later, perhaps when I was much older," he wrote in the introduction. 

      Decades later he began writing down memories, and when he was fifty-two, he wrote twenty-eight chapters of something I thought might eventually become a memoir. Writing on a typewriter was laborious and discouraging, and I ended up putting the pages aside except for essays about working as an artist for gallery catalogs. After he bought a computer and rewriting became easier, he took up the memoir again. 

      When he neared the ending, "I was startled and pleased to see that instead of a random collection of episodes, I saw my life emerging as a whole. I found a consistency and coherence that was as much a function of personality, instinct, and my compulsion to create as it was of conscious thought. It was a perspective impossible to have until I had lived almost eighty years."
      "Writing about my life has been a little like reliving it, but with the advantage of seeing the unfolding problems and troubles in the context of their eventual resolution. I found this second visit a good thing, even with its many uncomfortable moments, and it has left me at peace, my enthusiasm undiminished."


"I was enlightened, entertained, and frequently moved by this portrait of the artist composed with a touch of the poet." -- Sidney Offit, author of Memoir of the Bookie's Son and Curator Emeritus, George Polk Journalism Awards. 

"Like his paintings, Kipniss's prose is clear and evocative, and readers will enjoy following his adventures as he fences against the follies and venality of the art world." -- Avis Berman, art historian and author of Rebels on Eighth Street

"Kipniss is an engagingly unpretentious and often humorous raconteur, with pitch-perfect dialogue and a wonderful eye for the telling detail. It's a pleasure to ride along with Kipniss on his candid, well-paced, and witty romp through the New York art world and his life in art." -- Carol Ascher, author of Afterimages, a Memoir

"This is a rare treat. A working artist reviews his life with the same skill with words that he has with brush and stylus." --William A. Kinnison, President Emeritus, Wittenberg University

"Few great painters are great writers, but Kipniss is an exception. In his sensitive and personal memoir, we discover his passionate struggle to achieve his artistic goals, balancing the obligations of his personal life with the great demands of his art."-- E. John Bullard, Director Emeritus, New Orleans Museum of Art

"Robert Kipniss has fashioned a memoir of clarity, sensitivity and insight. Anyone seriously interested in art and the lives of artists, but especially in the mysterious and always fascinating connection between an artist's life and his work, would find this book both enlightening and enjoyable."-- Richard J. Boyle, art historian, former director, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts