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b. 1946, USA

Richard Roth Biography

Richard Roth is an American artist and designer known for his abstract geometric paintings that often depict subtle illusions. Roth's playful polychrome objects combine sculpture and painting where, true of the artist's wider practice, the process of making is a central element of their creation.

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Roth currently lives and works in Camarillo, California.

Early Years

Roth was born in 1946 in Brooklyn, New York. He began painting in 1969 and attended the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, where he completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Following his degree, Roth completed an MFA in painting at the Tyler School of Art of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1993, Roth's practice moved away from painting and began to focus on conceptualism and the study of contemporary culture. In his words, 'I gave up painting for collecting in 1993 because I expected too much of painting. Painting could never live up to what I needed it to be.' Roth didn't return to painting until 2005, when he found a renewed outlook on the medium through postmodern and conceptual influences.

Richard Roth Artworks

Abstract Geometric Paintings

Roth is known for his abstract geometric paintings that adopt three-dimensional and two-dimensional compositions.

His practice is enriched by his interest in product design, product packaging, fashion, custom cars, and architecture. Roth's paintings reference contemporary material culture by featuring characteristics of modernism. His practice experiments with colour, shape, and form, and places an emphasis on process, material, and technique.

Box Paintings (2016–18)

Box Paintings (2016–18) are a series of small paintings that are made from birch wood boxes that measure 12 x 8 x 4 inches. Roth paints on five sides of each box, developing a format that creates vibrant, three-dimensional geometric compositions. Roth's Box Paintings blur the boundaries between sculpture and painting.

This series of artworks demonstrates Roth's interest in themes of play, form, and the quotidian. By using every possible surface as a canvas, Roth explores the unexpected possibilities of small and reductive forms. With each new painting, Roth unfolds new configurations that extend the limitations of painting as a traditionally two-dimensional medium.

3D Polychrome Object Paintings (2019)

Roth's 3D Polychrome Object Paintings (2019) are a series of works made from a prototype process. Roth drafts each painting by creating prototype panels to envision how each work will look in its final form as a polychrome object. This process allows Roth to develop ideas quickly and change his paintings' form and composition in the moment. Once he has discovered a prototype he is satisfied with, Roth carefully refabricates it on a new panel resulting in the final work.

Similar to Roth's Box Paintings, the 3D Polychrome Object Paintings demonstrate precise form and sharply painted blocks of colour. The three-dimensional nature of these works reveals subtle optical illusions that mislead and distort viewers' visual perception. Roth became interested in creating illusions from abstract art after observing the Ebbinghaus Illusion, an illusion of relative size perception discovered by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus.

Awards and Accolades

In 1991, Roth was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Artists Fellowship for Painting. In 2008 he was awarded the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship in Painting. In 2012, Roth was granted the Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship in Painting.

Roth has taught at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond; The Ohio State University in Columbus; The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design; and the University of California in Berkeley.

Art Collections

Roth's artwork is included in the collections of several galleries and museums. Selected collections include Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; The Barron Collection, Detroit; New York University Art Collection, New York; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis.


Roth has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions.

Solo exhibitions include: Hell Gate, Reynolds Gallery, Richmond (2020); Spuyten Duyvil, Margaret Thatcher Projects, New York (2019); Close Call, David Richard Gallery, New York (2018); Richard Roth, 57W57arts, New York (2018); Richard Roth: Early Glass Paintings, Reynolds Gallery, Richmond (2018); Shocks and Struts: Richard Roth - New Work, David Richard Gallery, Santa Fe (2017); Speed Bump, Reynolds Gallery, Richmond (2016).

Group exhibitions include: Chromatic, Bentley Gallery, Phoenix (2021); Up to Now, Valletta Contemporary, Valletta (2020); Truthiness and the News, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln (2019–20); Impossible Objects, Davidson Gallery, New York (2019); AFTERMINIMALISM, Valletta Contemporary, Valletta (2019); Grafik, Harper's Books, East Hampton (2018); Transcendent Functionalism, Jeff Bailey Gallery, Hudson (2017); 100 Painters of Tomorrow, Beers Contemporary, London (2014–15).

Website and Instagram

Richard Roth's website can be found here.

Phoebe Bradford | Ocula | 2022

Richard Roth Featured Artworks

Straight Razor by Richard Roth contemporary artwork painting
Richard Roth Straight Razor, 2019 Acrylic on wood panel
30.5 x 20.54 x 10 cm
Valletta Contemporary Contact Gallery
Black Magic by Richard Roth contemporary artwork painting
Richard Roth Black Magic, 2019 Acrylic on wood panel
30.5 x 20.54 x 10 cm
Valletta Contemporary Contact Gallery
Plumb Loco by Richard Roth contemporary artwork painting
Richard Roth Plumb Loco, 2019 Acrylic on wood panel
30.5 x 20.54 x 10 cm
Valletta Contemporary Contact Gallery

Richard Roth Recent Exhibitions

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