Romance

31.01.17 – 04.03.17
The work of Walter Robinson has recently emerged as a major rediscovery.
A discreet painter but a well-known art critic since the 1980s, he co-founded the magazine Artnet and writes regularly in the specialist press. In that capacity, in 2014 he coined the term “Zombie Formalism”, that opened a large debate and offered a new point of view on the recent effects of the art market.
In his painting, on the other hand, he says he invents nothing. According to him, since everything has already been done, it would be pointless to try to create something new, and much more interesting to clearly admit that we are just « copying ». Robinson’s tone, also when talking about consumerism as a perfect world, always seems ironic, but never cynical. He likes to play, and hates moralizing. But his work is more serious than he claims, and is marked by many references to art history.
He paints images of desire, ranging from the passionate desire of couples on the covers of popular novels to the more materialistic desire for daily consumer products (clothes, food, cosmetics, dollar bills…), as in the advertising images that he also likes to “steal”.
His figurative painting is exuberant and generous, and it asserts itself courageously and with great freshness, having passed through all of the opposing currents without ever surrendering or betraying itself.
The exhibition particularly highlights his Romance series, inspired by the covers of pulp romances. He initiated the series when he was just starting to paint and continues to enrich it today with new compositions.
The subject is completely old-fashioned and yet radiates intense power. The characters are dated while the sensations remain intact, timeless. Looking at these paintings, what is immediately clear is that Walter Robinson loves this medium, and his pleasure in it emanates from his work. He appropriates the images and makes good use of their sexual charge. His process, however, transforms them, giving them another status and a mythical dimension. It is the latter that resonates in us when we look at his paintings.
Walter Robinson was born in New York in 1950. His work has been shown in many galleries (Metro Picture, Jeffrey Deitch…) and is part of important collections (MOMA, Whitney Museum…).
Récemment, le travail de Walter Robinson apparaît comme une re-découverte majeure.
Peintre discret mais critique d’art bien connu depuis les années 80, il a co-fondé le magazine Artnet et écrit régulièrement dans la presse dédiée. Il est à ce titre l’auteur en 2014 du terme « zombie formalism », qui a ouvert un large débat et un nouveau point de vue sur les effets du marché récent.
Dans sa peinture en revanche, il affirme ne rien inventer. Selon lui tout aurait déjà été fait, il serait donc inutile de s’efforcer en vain à créer du nouveau, mais plus intéressant d’assumer clairement qu’on ne fait que « copier ». Le ton de Robinson, aussi lorsqu’il parle du consumérisme comme d’un monde parfait, semble toujours ironique mais jamais cynique. Il aime jouer, et déteste la moralisation.
Le travail est pourtant plus sérieux qu’il le prétend, et empreint de nombreuses références à l’histoire de l’art.
Il peint des images de désir, allant de l’élan passionné des couples sur les couvertures de romans populaires à celui plus matérialiste des produits de consommation courants (vêtements, nourriture, produits cosmétiques, billets de banque…), comme sur les images publicitaires qu’il aime aussi « voler ».
Sa peinture figurative est exubérante et généreuse, courageuse et d’une grande fraicheur, ayant traversé tous les courants opposés sans jamais se rendre, sans se trahir.
L’exposition met en avant la série de peintures Romance, inspirée par les images de couvertures des romans de gare ou romantico-érotiques.
Il a initié cette série dès le début de sa pratique et continue encore aujourd’hui à l’enrichir de nouvelles compositions.
Le sujet est à la fois complètement désuet et dégage une très forte puissance. Les personnages sont datés alors que les sensations sont intactes, intemporelles. En regardant ces peintures, il apparaît tout d’abord évident que Walter Robinson aime ce médium, et le plaisir qu’il prend émane de ses tableaux. Il s’approprie ces images et tire parti de leur charge sexuelle. Son opération les transforme cependant, leur offre un autre statut et une dimension mythique. C’est cette dernière qui résonne en nous à la vue de ses peintures.
Walter Robinson est né en 1950 à New York. Son travail a été exposé dans de nombreuses galeries ( Metro Picture, Jeffrey Deitch…) et collectionné par de grandes institutions (MOMA, Whitney Museum…).
Born in 1950, Wilmington, Delaware.
Lives and works in New York.

 
 
Education

1973
Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, NY

1972
BA Art History and Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY


 
Solo exhibitions

2020    
Modern Times, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland

2019    
Romance, Cigarettes and More, Pure Joy, El Paso St.Marfa, TX
Walter Robinson: Shirt Paintings, Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2018    
Romance, Artissima Art Fair, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Turin, Italy
Salad, Candles & Money, Johannes Vogt Gallery, New York, NY 
 
2017    
Walter Robinson, 
Inna Art Space, Huangzhou, China
The Americans, Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz, Switzerland
Romance, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland
 
2016     
Biology, Stems Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
Mystic Museum of Art, Mystic, CT
Walter Robinson : A Retrospective, Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, New-York
Jeff Bailey Gallery, Hudson, NY 

2014-16 
Walter Robinson: Paintings and Other Indulgences, a retrospective at the University
Galleries, Normal, Ill.; traveling in January 2016 to Moore College Galleries, Philadelphia
 
2014     
Figure Studies, Lynch Tham, New York
Painkillers, Tops, Memphis

2013    
Indulgences, Dorian Grey Gallery, New York

2012    
Hello from New York, Firecat Projects, Chicago

2008     
Metro Pictures, New York

1998     
Cabinet Gallery, London

1995     
Tricia Collins Grand Salon, New York

1986     
Metro Pictures, New York
Semaphore Gallery, New York
Wessel O’Connor, Rome
Zero One, Los Angeles

1985     
Metro Pictures, New York (with Thomas Lawson)
Piezo Electric, New York
Zero One, Los Angeles

1984     
Piezo Electric, New York
Semaphore Gallery, New York (with Duncan Hannah)
Metro Pictures, New York

1982    
Metro Pictures, New York
 

 
Group exhibitions
 
2020     
Portraits & Some Standing Figures, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, CH

2019    
Glenn O'Brien: Center Stage, Off Paradise, New York, NY
Pretty Woman, Galerie Derouillon, Paris, FR
Make Believe Curated By Bruce W. Ferguson, Magenta Plains, New York, NY

2018    
Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980's, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
Summer of Love, Freight+Volume, New York, NY

2017     
LIKE, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland. Curated by Richard Kern
DOGS, Curated by Austin Lee and Oliver Clegg, 173 Green Street, Brooklyn, NY
Zeitgeist, MAMCO, Geneva, Switzerland
Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s , The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York 
Still (ed) Life; Part 2, Texas Gallery, Houston, TX
Abandoned Luncheonette, Jeff Bailey Gallery, Hudson, NY

2016     
Summer show, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland
Charles Bukowski & Walter Robinson: There’s a Bluebird In My Heart, Owen James, New York
Copy Paste, curated by Chris Bors, “SPRING/BREAK Art Show,” New York
Don’t Make a Scene, Kai Matsushima, New York
Hard Love, curated by Barry Blinderman, Jose Martos, New York

2015    
Unrealism, curated by Jeffrey Deitch, Moore Building, Miami
Only 2.5 Hrs from GWB, curated by Pia Dehne, Hamden, New York, and Roxbury, New York
Sweet Smell of Success, curated by James and Enzo Shalom, New York, Hilton Hotel
Viewer Discretion…Children of Bataille, curated by Kathleen Cullen, Stux + Haller, New York
La femme de trente ans, curated by Caroline Soyez-Petithomme, art : concept Paris
To Your Health! The Science, Culture & Art of the Cocktail, Everhart Museum, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Twenty by Sixteen, curated by Geoffrey Young, Morgan Lehman, New York
un(Scene) art fair, New York
SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Skylight at Moynihan Station, New York

2014    
Spring/Break, March 2014, New York
Bad Conscience, Metro Pictures, Jan 16-Feb 22, curated by John Miller

2013     
Social Photography III, Carriage Trade, N.Y.
Peter Angemann, Walter Robinson: Plein Air - Hot Romance, Sept. 22-Nov. 
4, 2013, Kunstmuehle, Muersbach, Germany, curated by Thomas Eller
404 E 14, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, June 20-Aug 2, 2013
All F*#king Summer, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach
Found and Lost, curated by Hope Sandrow, ArtSites, Riverhead, June 8-Aug 18

2012     
Bad for You, curated by Beth Rudin deWoody, Shirazu Gallery, London
White Male Complex, curated by Thomas Eller, Savvy Contemporary, Berlin, Nov 3-24, 2012
Times Square Show Revisited, Hunter College Art Galleries, Sept. 14-Dec. 8
Claxon, curated by Walter Robinson, Haunch of Venison, New York
Ping-Pong Basel Miami, Projektraum M54, Basel, Switzerland
Data Trash, curated by Chris Dorland, I-20, New York
Desperately Seeking Susan: Art from the 1980s, Kathleen Cullen Fine Art
Loughelton Revisited, Winkleman Gallery, New York

2011     
Social Photography, Carriage Trade, New York
Wit, curated by Glenn O’Brien, Paddle8
Art, Access & Decay: New York 1975-1985,” curated by Peter Frank & Lisa Kahane, Subliminal Projects, L.A.

2009    
Nincompatibles, Bowman Bloom, New York
Naked, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York
Looking at Music: Side Two, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Regift, Swiss Institute, New York
Images & (Re)presentations, Le Magasin, Grenoble

2008     
Market Forces, Carriage Trade, New York (and traveling)

2004     
East Village USA, New Museum of Contemporary Art
Stencil & Spray, ca. 1984, The Proposition, New York

2003     
OnLine, Feigen Contemporary, New York
First Person, Gallery Schlesinger, New York
The Summer of Lust, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, Mass.
Nip and Tuck, Artek Contemporaries, New York
After Matisse Picasso, P.S. 1, New York

2002     
Something, Anything, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
Transcendent and Unrepentant, Rosenwald Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia

2000-01 
Post-Hypnotic, touring show, Illinois State Galleries, Normal, Ill.

2000     
Certain Things: Unlikely Treasures, Elsa Mott Ives Gallery, New York

1999     
Mod!, Tricia Collins Contemporary Art, New York
Village Disco, Cabinet, London

1998     
Pets, Bronwyn Keenan, New York

1997     
Consumption, Printed Matter, New York

1994     
Red, Barney’s for Little Red Schoolhouse, New York
American Fine Arts Benefit, New York

1993     
Arachnosphere, Ramnarine Gallery, New York
Return of the Cadavre Exquis, Drawing Center, New York
Dolls in Contemporary Art, Haggerty Museum, Milwaukee

1992     
Works on Paper, Momentary Modern, Amsterdam
Tabloid, Sally Hawkins Gallery, New York

1991     
The Tree, Elysium Gallery, New York

1989     
Strange Attractors: Signs of Chaos, New Museum, New York

1986     
Signs of Painting, Metro Pictures, New York; Donald Young, Chicago
Paravision, Margo Leavin, Los Angeles
Tableaux Abstraits, Villa Arson, Nice
Greenberg’s Dilemma, Loughelton, New York
Physics, Piezo Electric, New York

1985     
Auto/Genetic/Photopsia, Christminster, New York

1984     
Drawings: After Photography, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin (travels to four other venues) Artists Weapons, Ted Greewald Gallery

1983     
Art on Paper, Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Winston-Salem
Terminal New York, Brooklyn Army Terminal, New York
Sex, Sharpe Gallery, New York
Artist/Critic, White Columns, New York

1982     
Beast, P.S.1, New York
Image Scavengers, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

1981     
Episodes, Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York
Real Life Magazine Presents, Nigel Greenwood, London
Island Show, ABC No Rio, New York

1980     
Times Square Show, New York
Collaborative Projects Benefit Exhibition, Brooke Alexander Gallery, New York
A. More Store, 529 Broome Street, New York
Figuring, Hallwalls, Buffalo
Real Estate Show, 123 Delancey, New York

1979     
Batman Show, 591 Broadway, New York
 
 
Collections
 
Museum of Modern Art
Whitney Museum of American Art
FNAC, Geneva
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Winston-Salem
Hall Family Foundation
Nina and Frank Moore
Jeffrey and Maria Eugenides
Fabiola Beracusa
Michael and Sheila Rips
 
 
Bibliography
 
Barry Blinderman, ed., Walter Robinson, Paintings and Other Indulgences, 144 pp., University Galleries,
Illinois State University, 2015
Collin Sundt, “Wanting to Be Art,” Artcritical, Mar. 2, 2016
Brian Boucher, “Walter Robinson at the Galleries at Moore,” Artnet Magazine, Jan. 25, 2016
Michelle Grabner, “Walter Robinson, University Galleries, Illinois State University, Artforum, Mar 2015
Sarah Schmerler, “Walter Robinson,” Art in America, Oct 2014
Noelle Bodick, “Artist Walter Robinson on Painting Desire,” Artspace Magazine, June 26, 2014
Stephanie Strasnick, “Walter Robinson,” Artnews, Sept. 2014
Phong Bui, “Walter Robinson with Phong Bui,” Brooklyn Rail, Nov. 2014
Donald Kuspit, “Walter Robinson,” Artforum, Summer 2013
Andrew Russeth, “Art Net: The Life and Times of Walter Robinson,” New York Observer, Jan 2012
Charlie Finch, The Unforbidden, Artnet Magazine, Nov. 10, 2009
Charlie Finch, “The Threat of Love,” Artnet Magazine, Apr. 8, 2008
Jeanne Siegel, ed., Artwords 2: Discourse on the Early ‘80s, 1988
Ronald Jones, “Walter Robinson,“ C Magazine, Toronto, Dec. 1987
Carlo McCormick, “pOPTOMETRY,“ Artforum, Nov. 1985, pp. 87-91
Jeanne Silverthorne, “Walter Robinson, Metro Pictures,“ Artforum, Summer 1985, pp. 112
Regan Upshaw, “Walter Robinson at Sempahore,” Art in America, Feb. 1985
Joseph Masheck, Point 1, 1984, pp. 124-127
Brooks Adams, “Walter Robinson at Metro Pictures“, Art in America, May 1982
Thomas Lawson, “Last Exit: Painting,“ Artforum, Oct. 1981
Jeffrey Deitch, “Report from Times Square,“ Art in America, June 1980
 
 
Editorial positions
 
Columnist, Artspace.com
Editor-in-chief and founder, Artnet Magazine, 1996-2012
Contributing editor and news editor, Art in America, 1978-2009
Columnist (“It’s a Dad’s Life“), Paper magazine, 1992-95
Art editor, East Village Eye, 1982-85
Editor, The Art Letter, 1978-82
Publisher and editor, Art-Rite magazine, 1973-78
 
 
Other positions
 
Contributor, Bald Ego #1, Max Blagg & Glenn O’Brien, eds.
Correspondent and on-screen commentator, Art TV Gallery Beat, 1994-2004
Author, “Instant Art History,“ Ballantine Books, 1994
Jury chair, Pernod Liquid Art competition, 1993-99
Executive director, Collaborative Projects (COLAB), 1980