Robert Cottingham – part 4


An American Alphabet (1997 - 2011). 26 colour lithographs in an edition of 40, printed and published by Tandem Press, Madison, WI.

A project more than twenty years in the making. Cottingham began work on the first gouaches for the Alphabet while at the McDowell colony in 1993, though the photographs from which the images are drawn extend back decades before that. Over the following four years Cottingham made oil paintings of the full alphabet. In 1997 he made lithographs of K and F with Tandem Press, and he has been executing a few letters a year ever since. The last three - U, Y and Q were completed in 2012.

Cottingham’s 26 letters are a collection, salvaged from a variety of mid-century American commercial signs; most are neon, a handful are moulded plastic. Each of these prints is the result of a lengthy chain of representations from life to photograph to drawing to gouache to oil painting to print. The lithograph “A” for example, reconstitutes the painting “A,” but both derive from a photograph of the marquee of the Los Angeles Art Theater, itself the source of Cottingham’s 1971 painting and 1992 lithograph, both titled “Art.”

With a few other letters I have identified as belonging to previous subject matter, or from the same source material, I have also shown the relevant artwork.

While Cottingham’s 26 alphabet paintings remain united in a corporate collection in Germany - a complete alphabet spelling nothing in particular - the prints have been slipping out into the world for 14 years. Some have been set aside to be sold as complete sets, others have been acquired individually or in small groups.


2001 An American Alphabet A lithograph 78.7 x 58.4 cm
© Robert Cottingham

1992 Art lithograph 117.5 x 116.8 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2008 An American Alphabet B lithograph 77.5 x 63.5 cm
© Robert Cottingham


2008 An American Alphabet C lithograph 78.1 x 62.2 cm
© Robert Cottingham



1998 An American Alphabet D lithograph 78.8 x 58.4 cm
© Robert Cottingham

2008 An American Alphabet E lithograph 77.5 x 63.5 cm
© Robert Cottingham


1997 An American Alphabet F lithograph 78.7 x 75.6 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2009 An American Alphabet G lithograph 78.1 x 52.7 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2010 An American Alphabet H lithograph 78.7 x 55.9 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2009 An American Alphabet I lithograph 78.1 x 57.8 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2003 An American Alphabet J lithograph 77.5 x 60 cm
© Robert Cottingham



1997 An American Alphabet K lithograph 78.7 x 58.4 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2005 An American Alphabet L lithograph 78.7 x 55.2 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2002 An American Alphabet M lithograph 77.5 x 55.6 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2011 An American Alphabet N lithograph 77.8 x 59.7 cm © Robert Cottingham



2007 An American Alphabet O lithograph 78.1 x 53.3 cm
© Robert Cottingham



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



2005 An American Alphabet P lithograph 78.7 x 56.2 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2011 An American Alphabet Q lithograph 77.5 x 61 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2002 An American Alphabet R lithograph 78.7 x 58.4 cm
© Robert Cottingham



1968 Ralph's II © Robert Cottingham



2007 An American Alphabet S lithograph 77.5 x 59.4 cm
© Robert Cottingham



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



2002 An American Alphabet T lithograph 78.7 x 58.4 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2011 An American Alphabet U lithograph 77.8 x 50.8 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2004 An American Alphabet V lithograph 79.1 x 58.4 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2010 An American Alphabet W lithograph 79.1 x 61 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2009 An American Alphabet X lithograph 78.1 x 60 cm
© Robert Cottingham



1973 Fox lithograph 53.1 x 53.3 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2011 An American Alphabet Y lithograph 77.5 x 55.9 cm
© Robert Cottingham



2008 An American Alphabet Z lithograph 77.5 x 58.4 cm
© Robert Cottingham



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


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