“I may be painting trees and houses, but when I look at them, that’s not what I see. I see an atmosphere, a moment, a quickly passing experience that I’m trying to capture. My art is an art of intensity, of delving, of exploring the soul.”
(American, b. 1931)
Robert Kipniss is considered one of the greatest living American printmakers, with a professional career that spans seven decades and work that can be found in over 170 museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The British Museum, London; the Albertina, Vienna; the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris; the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, London; The Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Born in Brooklyn in 1931, Kipniss studied at the Art Students League in 1947, Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio from 1948-50, and the University of Iowa, receiving a BA degree in English literature in 1952, and an MFA in painting and art history in 1954. Although he has painted in oil throughout his life, Kipniss focused on stone lithography during his early career, and has predominately worked in Mezzotint since the early 1990’s. Mezzotint is an intaglio printmaking technique along with etching and drypoint, in which the artist begins with a rocked copper plate. If the plate were to be inked and printed at the initial stages, it would register to the paper as carbon black. To draw out the lightness in the image, the artist must carefully scrape and burnish away the copper plate’s ability to hold ink. This process is exceedingly time consuming, but results in a complete range of tonality. Kipniss, who is still actively producing Mezzotints at the age of 89, is considered a true master of this technique’s delicate interplay between darkness and light.
Kipniss was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1980, and to the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, London, in 1998. He has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of American Graphic Artists and The Artists Fellowship. He has also received the Speicher-Hassam Purchase Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, as well as Honorary Doctorates from Wittenberg University and Illinois College.