Robert James Anderson: Restless Observer

Robert James Anderson: Restless Observer

The Rocky Neck Art Colony presents Robert James Anderson: Restless Observer, on view at The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck from Friday, May 27, to Sunday, June 28.
Robert James Anderson (1934-2016) was a wide-ranging and experimental American artist. Primarily a painter, he created inventive abstract and figurative works throughout his life. He lived and worked first in Chicago and New York City before settling permanently in Rockport, Massachusetts, in 1971. Anderson worked mainly in oils on canvas and paper, but he experimented with many materials, including carved concrete, shaped paper, and bent wood, and he filled notebooks with playful and fantastical ink drawings. This in-memoriam exhibition showcases the astounding body of work he created in his 46 years on Cape Ann.

“My paintings are structured and deliberate,” said Anderson. “At best they become like music for the eyes. The notes that make up the music are color, shape, line, texture and all the other elements that make up visual expression.”

In the 1950s Anderson studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1957, at the age of 23, he was awarded the Institute’s prestigious Logan Prize. He exhibited at the Hyde Park Art Center and had a one-man show in Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He was clearly influenced by the German Expressionists, but he absorbed art from many eras and areas of the world.

In the 1980s and 90s, Anderson’s paintings turned toward richly colored abstraction, sometimes playing off Cape Ann’s granitic landforms as well as machine parts and hand tools. His particular sense of humor and observation is evident in many of his figurative works from this period. On Cape Ann, he was part of a close-knit group of artists, including Roger Martin, Oliver Balf, Ralph Coburn, Joy Halsted, Abe Rothstein and Bernard Chaet, who met regularly for informal art critiques.

Anderson exhibited his work at the Orphanos Gallery on Charles Street in Boston and at the Boston Symphony Group Show, as well as at the Silvermine Arts Center in Connecticut; Montserrat College of Art in Beverly; the Cape Ann Museum; the School Street Gallery in Rockport, and the Acacia and Flatrocks galleries in Gloucester. He had one-man shows at Gloucester’s West End Gallery, the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven and, posthumously, at Flatrocks in the fall of 2016.

This exhibit is open each Thursday through Sunday, noon-5:00PM in both galleries at the Cultural Center.

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