Robert Colescott (1925–2009)
An internationally known artist, Robert Colescott long explored the social questions of our times with both seriousness and wit. His controversial topics ranged from the mundane to the profound, touching on race, history, sex, and power. The work for which Colescott became especially well known are expressive, cartoon-like portrayals of American slices of life that contain poignant and thought-provoking images using vibrant color. He explored a distinctive version of popular culture, using references to art history, religion, and literary sources. This exhibition encompasses the provocative work for which he became especially well recognized, as well as earlier work that illustrates his expressive and formal interests as a painter.
Born in Oakland, California, Robert Colescott graduated from UC Berkeley in 1952 after studying at the Atelier Fernand Léger in Paris. From 1957 through 1966, he served as Associate Professor of Art at Portland State University. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Foundation Grant and two NEA awards. In 1997, his work was selected to represent the United States at the 47th Venice Biennale. His work is included in the collections of MOMA, NY, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum of Fine Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Portland Art Museum among others.