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b. 1938, USA

Robert Reed Biography

Over more than five decades, Robert Reed investigated formal abstraction through the media of painting, drawing, printmaking and collage. One of the most understudied artists of his generation, Reed developed a unique visual language that originated in childhood memories and manifested as elegant and playful abstract paintings. A sensitive and unconventional colourist–as a student he assisted Josef Albers–Reed grounded his paintings in spatial awareness developed through drawing and collage.

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Born in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1938, Reed grew up with his mother and sister and attended segregated schools until the age of 15, when he graduated early from high school. In 1959, he received his BS from Morgan College in Baltimore before moving to New Haven to study at Yale, where he received his BFA in 1960 and MFA in 1962.

After graduating, Reed taught at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (1962–1965) and Skidmore College (1965–1969). In 1969, he returned to New Haven as Associate Professor of Painting at the Yale School of Art, where he would continue to teach up until the month of his passing in 2014. Over these 45 years, Reed served variously as Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Dean of Graduate Studies, and member of various academic committees. As the school's only African-American tenured full professor, he tirelessly advocated for applicants and students of colour.

Reed worked consistently and privately out of his New Haven studio for his entire adult life; he rarely discussed his own practice, even with close colleagues and friends. During his lifetime, he mentioned being influenced by Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, as well as artists he knew personally, such as Josef Albers, Philip Guston, Jon Schueler and Neil Welliver.

Reed often created titles according to a unique system in which related works shared similar prefixes (such as Plum Nellie or Galactic Journal). Each family of works occupied him for several years, sometimes more than a decade, and represented an evolution in his visual interests.

Reed's work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Detroit Institute of Arts, Walker Art Center, Yale University Art Gallery, and Bayly Art Museum at the University of Virginia, among others.

Text courtesy Pilar Corrias.

Robert Reed Featured Artworks

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San Romano, Ten And One Half by Robert Reed contemporary artwork
Robert ReedSan Romano, Ten And One Half, 1984Aquatec acrylic on canvas unfinished with pencil marks
213.4 x 182.9 cm
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San Romano, Southern Midst by Robert Reed contemporary artwork
Robert ReedSan Romano, Southern Midst, 1980–1981Aquatec acrylic on canvas
182.9 x 304.8 cm
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San Romano, Hydraulic Lift by Robert Reed contemporary artwork
Robert ReedSan Romano, Hydraulic Lift, 1979Aquatec acrylic on canvas
213.4 x 365.8 cm
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Pre San Romano Study [Untitled 616] by Robert Reed contemporary artwork
Robert ReedPre San Romano Study [Untitled 616], 1978–1980Acrylic on paper
95.3 x 127 cm
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Pre San Romano Study [Untitled 615] by Robert Reed contemporary artwork
Robert ReedPre San Romano Study [Untitled 615], 1978–1980Acrylic on paper
95.3 x 127 cm
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Galactic Journal: Antibes Vert (aka School Colors #2) by Robert Reed contemporary artwork
Robert ReedGalactic Journal: Antibes Vert (aka School Colors #2), 2004Acrylic/oil marker on canvas
228.6 x 205.7 cm
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Pilar Corrias
Le Relais Du Postillon, Florence Room 2012 - Untitled #8 by Robert Reed contemporary artwork
Robert ReedLe Relais Du Postillon, Florence Room 2012 - Untitled #8, 2012Collage: paper, watercolour, colour pencil, electrostatic printing, metal fasteners, wood frame, glass
30.5 x 22.9 cm
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Robert Reed Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Robert Reed, San Romano Series at Pilar Corrias, London
Closed
12 April–18 May 2019 Robert Reed San Romano Series Pilar Corrias, London

Robert Reed Represented By

Robert Reed In Related Press

The Colors of the Sixties Related Press The Colors of the Sixties 6 April 2019, Hyperallergic

The eighth floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art, as David Breslin, the Director of the Collection, sees it, is 'a place for surprises.' The elegant spaces of the museum's top floor, catching the light off the river through its skylights and glass walls, have felt enchanted ever since it opened in 2015 with the Early Modernist 'Forms...

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The Bauhaus and the Black Experience: The Magnificent and Mysterious Robert Reed Related Press The Bauhaus and the Black Experience: The Magnificent and Mysterious Robert Reed 23 March 2019, Hyperallergic

In 1973, the artist Robert Reed celebrated openings for three exhibitions in New York: one at the Washburn Gallery in Manhattan, one at the Webb & Parsons Gallery in Bedford, and one at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It was a major year for Reed, a former student of the visionary Bauhaus abstractionist Josef Albers, and also the first and...

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