Robert Cottingham – part 1


I am in the process of revising and updating some of my very early posts, which now look a little inadequate. This is the first of these revisions and re-posts.

Robert Cottingham was born in 1935 in Brooklyn. He was one of a group of artists including Richard Estes and Chuck Close known as the Photo-realists. This movement, which came to prominence in the late 1960’s was seen as a reaction against Abstract Expressionism. The controlled technique, and slick photographic appearance of Photo-realism was in complete stylistic opposition to the expressive paintings produced by such artists as Jackson Pollock. In this sense it was akin to Pop Art, which embraced the impersonal, mass-produced aesthetic of advertising.

Photography was used as an important tool in the process of making Photo-realist artworks; Cottingham would use the camera as a means to document urban signage, before working on his meticulous paintings and prints. His subjects are inspired by his love of the American urban landscape, particularly New York, which has an abundance of neon signage, and colourful advertising billboards. The use of signs is an important formal tool in Cottingham’s work, in many pieces the letters take on an abstract quality – removed from their context they become formal devices. The bold, graphic nature of Cottingham’s work is particularly effective in his prints, which by their nature replicate the flat surface of a photograph.

For over 35 years Cottingham has alternated between printmaking, painting and drawing, using the dialogue between the different mediums to develop his work. He has worked with many major print workshops including the Landfall Press in Chicago, Tandem Press in Madison, Wisconsin, and Harlan and Weaver in New York, producing over sixty editions over his career.

Cottingham’s works can be found in many major collections Internationally, including: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Ludwig Collection in Cologne, Germany, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Tate Gallery in London.

This is part 1 of a 4-part post on the works of Robert Cottingham. Parts 1-3 will show a chronology of his works. Part 4 looks at his “American Alphabet” prints.

1967 Shell Truck oil on canvas 124.4 x 195.5 cm © Robert Cottingham

1968 Ralph's II © Robert Cottingham

1971 Ode oil on canvas 198.1 x 198.1 cm © Robert Cottingham

2009 Ode (Fuji-transparency in lightbox) 50.8 x 50.8 x 13 cm © Robert Cottingham

1971 Tattoo oil on canvas 198.2 x 198.4 cm © Robert Cottingham

1975 Tattoo lithograph 86.4 x 86.4 cm © Robert Cottingham

1972 Roxy oil on canvas 199.5 x 199.5 cm © Robert Cottingham



1972 Orph lithograph 60.9 x 86.3 cm © Robert Cottingham


1973 Fox lithograph 53.1 x 53.3 cm © Robert Cottingham


1973 Hot lithograph 53.3 x 53 cm © Robert Cottingham


2009 Hot silkscreen 96.5 x 96.5 cm © Robert Cottingham


1974 Avenue Fish Market acrylic on paper 44.2 x 43.8 cm © Robert Cottingham


1974 Dr. Gibson lithograph 86.3 x 86.3 cm © Robert Cottingham

1974 El Toro acrylic on paper 10.5 x 10.5 cm © Robert Cottingham

1974 Buschs oil on canvas 198.1 x 198.1 cm © Robert Cottingham


1975 Champagne lithograph 27.9 x 21.5 cm © Robert Cottingham


2009 Champagne screenprint 96.5 x 94 cm © Robert Cottingham


1975 Ice etching & aquatint 26.3 x 26.3 cm © Robert Cottingham


1975 Everybody's Bookshop-Everybody's Books lithograph 45.7 x 46.6 cm © Robert Cottingham

1975 F. W. - from the Landfall Press Etching Portfolio etching & aquatint 26.6 x 26.6 cm © Robert Cottingham


1975 Carl's oil on linen © Robert Cottingham


1977 published 1980 Carl's, from the Cottingham Suite etching & aquatint 25.7 x 26.4 cm © Robert Cottingham


1976 Frozen Custard acrylic on paper 26.7 x 26.7 cm © Robert Cottingham


1976 Keystone Photo acrylic on paper 10.5 x 10.5 cm © Robert Cottingham

1976 Cafe oil on canvas 200 x 200 cm © Robert Cottingham

1976 Kurtz acrylic on paper 26.7 x 26.7 cm © Robert Cottingham

1976 Schaefer Beer oil on canvas 78.5 x 78.5 cm © Robert Cottingham


1977 Miller High Life oil on canvas 198.1 x 198.1 cm © Robert Cottingham




1977 published 1980 Cold Beer lithograph 35.5 x 35.5 cm © Robert Cottingham

1980-82 Cold Beer hand-coloured lithograph 35.5 x 35.5 cm © Robert Cottingham

1978 Women-Girls lithograph 38 x 38 cm © Robert Cottingham


2000 Women-Girls etching & aquatint 79.4 x 78.1 cm © Robert Cottingham



1979 Adels acrylic on paper 53.9 x 73 cm © Robert Cottingham


1979 Candy acrylic on paper 26.5 x 26.5 cm © Robert Cottingham

1979 Candy oil on canvas 198.4 x 198.4 cm © Robert Cottingham


1979 The Spot oil on canvas 81.3 x 81.3 cm © Robert Cottingham


1982 The Spot lithograph 68 x 47 cm © Robert Cottingham


1977 published 1980 Star, from the Cottingham Suite etching & aquatint 43.8 x 43.8 cm © Robert Cottingham


1985 Star lithograph 54.9 x 53.9 cm © Robert Cottingham


2009 Aqua Star silkscreen on canvas 200.7 x 200.7 cm © Robert Cottingham


2009 Southern Star silkscreen on canvas 200.7 x 200.7 cm © Robert Cottingham

2009 Capella silkscreen on canvas 200.7 x 200.7 cm © Robert Cottingham

2009 Star silkscreen on canvas 200.7 x 200.7 cm © Robert Cottingham


1980 Billy's oil on canvas 124.5 x 167.6 cm © Robert Cottingham


1980 Black Girl, from the Cottingham Suite lithograph 26.7 x 26.7 cm © Robert Cottingham



1980 Keen Kottons acrylic on paper 61.2 x 53.8 cm © Robert Cottingham

1981 Keen Kottons oil on canvas 81.3 x 81.3 cm © Robert Cottingham


1980 Patte's lithograph 35.6 x 35.6 cm © Robert Cottingham

1980-82 Patte's hand-coloured lithograph 35.5 x 35.5 cm © Robert Cottingham

1980 Radio City Deli lithograph 35.5 x 35.5 cm © Robert Cottingham


1980-82 Radio City Deli hand-coloured lithograph 35.5 x 35.5 cm © Robert Cottingham


1980-82 Radio City Deli oil on canvas 152.4 x 152.4 cm © Robert Cottingham


Comments