Robert Natkin American, 1930-2010


Styles change. Hemlines rise and fall. But great art transcends time. Robert Natkin has managed, over the past fifty years, to remove himself from the fickle vagaries of the art establishment, and consecrate himself to creating paintings that are intimate and highly powerful.

“What is built on novelty perishes by obsolescence”, writes art critic Robert Hughes. The high-concept, low-content installations and “shock art” camp that fill today’s galleries and museums may serve as interesting sociological studies, but they fail, ultimately, to sustain us. Natkin’s paintings, despite their look of deceptive serenity, challenge the viewer to travel inward, and spark an intimacy that’s long-lasting and transforming. His canvases cannot be appreciated in a single glance- they require contemplation. Natkin, a longtime lover of words and wordplay, has long spoken his rejection of aesthetic “hollowness” in favor of that which is ‘hallowed”. He resists the ephemeral titillation of transient pleasure, embracing instead a more furtive and evocative poetic landscape that is, ultimately, transcendent.

Natkin is particularly demanding of his viewers. We—those gazing—become an integral part of the visual spectacle of the canvas. While many of Natkin’s contemporaries have resorted comfortably to creating art that is superficial and as easy-to-spot as a designer handbag (“logo art”, we could call it-think Warhol’s Polaroid portraits), Natkin strives, through his paintings, to weave powerful visual narratives. Indeed, it is the viewer’s involvement with Natkin’s paintings that ultimately actualizes the primal vision of the artist. The power of this engagement- this intense intimacy between viewer and artist- propels us past the skin of the canvas, beyond the pictorial arrangement of shape and color, into the realm of inner narrative. Natkin and his viewers become, in a sense, coconspirators, working in collusion.


2007 LewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM
2007 Los Angeles Art Show (exhibited by LewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM) at Barker Hangar, Santa Monica, CA
2006 David Findlay Jr Fine Art, New York, NY
2004 David Findlay Jr Fine Art, New York, NY
2003 The Butler Institute of American Art/Trumbull, Youngstown, OH
1997 The Butler Institute of American Art/Trumbull, Youngstown, OH
1995 Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago, IL
1992 Winchester Cathedral, England
1991 Installation of a mural for Rockefeller Center, New York, NY
1990 Springfield Museum, MO 1985 Klonaridis Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1985 FIAC, Grand Palais, Paris, France
1983 Tokyo Ginza Art Center, Tokyo Japan
1983 Nagoya Art Center, Nagoya, Japan
1982 Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut
1981 Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
1980 Manus Preese Gmbh, Stuttgart, Germany
1979 Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York, NY (1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1989)
1979 Galerie Brusberg, Hannover, Germany
1977 Gimpel Fils Gallery, London, England (1980, 1981, 1984, 1990, 1992)
1976 Retrospective at Moore College of Art Gallery
1976 Retrospective at the Kansas City Art Institute
1974 Galerie Andre Emmerich, Zurich, Switzerland (1977)
1974 Galleria d’Arte Moderna-Ravagnan, Venice, Italy
1974 Galerie Merian, Krefeld, Germany
1970 Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY (1973, 1974, 1976, 1978)
1969 Retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
1961 Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1959 Poindexter Gallery, New York, NY (1961, 1963, 1965, 1968)
1958 Well Street Gallery, Chicago, IL

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