Robert Kipniss, American (1931 - )

Robert Kipniss' stark, moody drawings and graphic works are eagerly collected and exhibited by both public and private art enthusiasts around the world.

Robert Kipniss was born in New York City in 1931. His love of art was quickly fostered and nurtured, in large part due to his parents, both of whom were also artists. He began honing his craft at New York City's acclaimed Art Students League in 1947. During his college years, Kipniss wavered between focusing his attention on an education in literature and one in fine art. He earned a Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Iowa in 1952, and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Art History from the same school in 1954.

Kipniss' first recognition from the art community came before he finished his studies; in 1951 he won an art competition in New York City that earned him his first one-person exhibition in the same city. Numerous solo shows followed throughout the United States and beyond. It was in the 1960s that Kipniss began creating graphic works, producing numerous drypoints, lithographs and intaglio works, mezzotints in particular.

The subjects of Kipniss' works include austere limbs of trees in autumn and winter; spare, modest houses with simple shapes; a rolling countryside dotted with the occasional home, tree or shrub; and shadowy interior scenes. Though the homes, furniture, and various items that typically adorn a domicile hint at the presence of human life, Kipniss' works are devoid of people. They artfully explore the effects of light and shadow in muted tones, often in shades of white, gray, pale yellow and dusty green. Though at face value they may simply appear to explore the simple subjects they feature, Kipniss strives to capture something deeper.

“If someone looks at my paintings and sees only trees and houses, then they don’t see what I’m doing,” Kipniss has said. “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 of intensity, of delving, of exploring the soul.”

Kipniss' works have received numerous awards, including the National Academy of Design in New York City's Ralphi Fabri Prize in 1976; the Charles M. Lea Prize from the Print Club of Philadelphia in 1978; the Society of American Graphic Artists Printmaking Award in 1979; the Audubon Artists of New York City's Silver Medal in 1980 and Medal of Honor in 1983; a Certificate of Merit from the National Academy of Design in New York City in 1997; and the Boston Printmakers' Rembrandt Graphics Award in 1999.

Numerous books have been published about the artist. Recent publications include Robert Kipniss: Intaglios, 1982-2004 by Trudie A. Grace and Thomas Piche, Jr. (Manchester, VT: Hudson Hills Press, 2004); Seen in Solitude: Robert Kipniss Prints From the James F. White Collection by Daniel Piersol (New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Museum of Art, 2005); and Robert Kipniss: Paintings 1950-2005 by Richard J. Boyle (Manchester, VT: Hudson Hills Press, 2007)

Many museums exhibit Kipniss' work in their permanent collections, including the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the Chicago Art Institute; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas; the British Museum in London, England; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the New Orleans Museum of Art. His exhibit, “Seen in Solitude: Robert Kipniss Prints from the James F. White Collection,” was slated to open in January 2006 at the New Orleans Museum of Art, but the museum's doors closed temporarily due to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. When the museum reopened in March 2006, the revamped Kipniss show was its inaugural exhibit. Kipniss' work is also collected by private art lovers around the world.


  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
  • The British Museum, London, UK
  • Pinakothek der Moderne, Staaliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, Germany
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
  • Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University, UK
  • Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
  • Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia, SA.
  • New Orleans Museum of Art
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
  • The Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor
  • Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
  • The Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA (Harvard University Art Museums)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Houston Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX
  • The McNay Museum, San Antonio, TX
  • Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts (The Stanford Museum), Stanford, CA
  • Los Angeles Museum of Art
  • New York Public Library, New York City
  • Springfield Museumof Art, Springfield, MO
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
  • The Chicago Art Institute
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.
  • Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  • Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
  • National Academy of Design, New York City
  • Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
  • Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence
  • Bodleian Library, Oxford University, UK
  • The Century Association, New York City
  • The Art Students League of New York, New York City
  • De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, MA
  • Indianapolis Museum
  • The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
  • Everson Museumof Art, Syracuse, NY
  • Springfield Museum of Fine Art, Springfield, OH
  • Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
  • Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL
  • Art Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke, VA
  • Detroit Institute of Art
  • Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN
  • Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY
  • Hudson Walker Collection, University of Minnesota, MN
  • Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC
  • Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI
  • Canton Art Institute, Canton, OH
  • Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH
  • The Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell, Ithaca, NY
  • Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
  • Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA
  • Dubuque Museum of Fine Arts, Dubuque, IA
  • Arkansas State University Permanent Collection, Jonesboro, AR
  • Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME
  • Elvehjem Museum of Art, Madison, WI
  • Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, NJ
  • Wichita Falls Museum of Art, Wichita Falls, TX
  • Lakeview Museum, Peoria, IL


  • Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2007, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000
  • Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO, 2003
  • Beadleston Gallery, New York City, 200 3, 2002
  • Harmon-Meek Gallery, Naples, FL, 2002
  • Bassenge Gallery, Berlin, Germany, 1999
  • The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, 1999
  • The Redfern Gallery, London, UK, 1999, 1995
  • Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, TX, 1999
  • Davidson Gallery, Seattle, WA, 1999, 1993, 1983, 1982
  • Molesey Gallery, East Molesey, Surrey, UK, 1999, 1995
  • Jane Haslem Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1998, 1976
  • Gallery New World, Dusseldorf, Germany, 1998, 1995
  • Gerhard Wurzer Gallery, Houston, TX, 1999, 1997, 1988, 1986, 1981
  • Hexton Gallery, New York City, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994
  • Wichita Falls Museum of Art, Wichita Falls, TX, 1997 (A Retrospective of Paintings and Graphics, 1950's-1990's)
  • Venable/Neslage Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1997, 1995
  • The Century Association, New York City, 1996
  • Taunhaus Gallery, Osaka and Kanazawa, Japan, 1994
  • Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH, 1993, 1979
  • Laura Craig Gallery, Scranton, PA, 1993, 1991, 1990
  • Theodore B. Donson Gallery, 1992
  • OK Harris Gallery, New York City, 1991
  • Enatsu Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 1990, 1988, 1987
  • Illinois College, Jacksonville, IL, 1989
  • Springfield Museum of Fine Art, Springfield, OH, 1985, 1983
  • Haller-Griffin Gallery, Washington, CT, 1985
  • ICA, Tokyo, Japan, 1984
  • Payson/Weisberg Gallery, New York City, 1983, 1981
  • Gage Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1981
  • The Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT, 1981
  • Hirschl and Adler Gallery, New York City, 1980, 1977
  • Museo De Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia, S.A., 1980, 1975
  • Canton Art Institute, Canton, OH, 1979
  • Associated American Artists, New York City, 1977 (A graphics retrospective 1967-1977)
  • Galeria De Arte, Lima, Peru, 1977
  • Galeria San Diego, Bogota, Colombia, S.A., 1977, 1975
  • Xochipili Gallery, Rochester, MI, 1975
  • Kalamazoo Art Institute, Kalamazoo, MI, 1975
  • Centro De Arte Actual, Pereira, Colombia, S.A., 1975
  • FAR Gallery, New York City, 1975, 1972, 1970, 1968
  • Allen R. Hite Institute, University of Louisville, KY, 1965
  • The Contemporaries Gallery, New York City, 1967, 1966, 1960, 1959
  • Harry Salpeter Gallery, New York City, 1953
  • Joe Gans Gallery, New York City, 1951


  • Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY, “Object Lessons: Additions to the Collection, 1997-2002,” 2003
  • Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL, Celebrating a Decade of Growth: Selections from the Orlando Museum of Art's Permanent Collections2003
  • Tacoma Museum of Art, Tacoma, WA, “Pressed: Intaglio,” 2002
  • The Art Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke, VA, “Selected Recent Acquisitions,”2002
  • Royal Academy Summer Show, London, 2001
  • The British Museum, London, “Recent Acquisitions,”2000
  • The National Academy of Design, New York City, “Paper Trail, Works on Paper from the Academy Collection,” 2000
  • Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK, Recent Acquisitions,” 1999
  • Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK, “No Day Without A Line,”Diploma Prints of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, 1999
  • American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City, “Invitational Exhibition,” 1988
  • The Whitney Museum, New York City, “Recent Acquisitions,” 1972


  • The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, London, UK, 1998
  • The National Academy of Design, New York City, 1980
  • Illinois College, Jacksonville, IL, Honorary Doctorate, 1989
  • Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH, Honorary Doctorate, 1979
With his mezzotints Robert Kipniss approaches the physical world formally through reduction of modeling and foreshortening and careful balance of vertical and horizontal elements. Gravity seems to firmly anchor Kipniss’ simple geometric masses and they appear immobile within time and space. Though Kipniss’ work is the vehicle of personal sentiment, in his expression of order and permanence he revives the idealism of the American myth. Robert Kipniss is an elected member of the National Academy of Design, New York and elected to the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, London, UK. Kipniss' work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, British Museum, Chicago Art Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, Library of Congress, New York Public Library, and the Portland Art Museum.

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