Robert Seyffert, American (1952 - )

Robert Seyffert

Robert Seyffert was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1952. He grew up in Lima, Peru and at the age of 8 moved with his family to Massachusetts and then Delaware. He then left home to study at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. After working as a curator on Maryland’s Eastern Shore he went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts at the Parsons School of Design in New York City in 1981. Moving to Baltimore in 1983 he set up a studio in the Fells Point neighborhood and began painting cityscapes with cars. In a profile in American Artist magazine in 2003, he explained the appeal of both natural and urban scenes.

“Whether it’s a big tree or a 1965 Pontiac,” Seyffert said, “there’s something about the light hitting the subject that excites me, and that’s what I paint. . . . I’m trying to get the sensation created by the thing I’m looking at, and not just copying it” (Howell, 2003). His landscape paintings include scenes from Maryland, California, Nova Scotia, and Brittany. Seyffert’s cityscapes, depicting the streets of New York and Baltimore and featuring vintage automobiles, are frequently compared to the works of Edward Hopper. “I started painting these cars just like Dutch painters would approach a still life, how they’d carefully place fruit on a table to catch the light in a certain way,” Seyffert said (Howell, 2003). “I get the same kind of excitement for light on chrome.”

Seyffert has taught drawing and painting at Johns Hopkins University, Washington Studio School, Washington, D.C.; and Baltimore School for the Arts. Formerly for 15 years he was director of the Alfred and Traffort Klots Residency Program at Rochefort-en-Terre. This international residency program, administered by the Maryland Institute College of Art, gives professional American artists the opportunity to live, work, and exhibit in a Renaissance Chateau in southeast Brittany, France.

Among Seyffert’s awards are a first prize from the National Arts Club, a Helena Rubinstein Grant from the Parsons School of Design, a Greenshields Fellowship, and a Yale at Norfolk Summer School Fellowship. Seyffert’s work resides in many institutional and private collections, including his portrait of James Michener at the National Portrait Gallery.

Seyffert’s work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including shows at Loyola College, Baltimore; National Arts Club, New York; Washington Studio School, Washington, D.C.; and Paula MacDonald Gallery, Chester, Nova Scotia. The exhibition, Leopold, Richard, and Robert Seyffert: Three Generations of Artistic Visions, featuring more than 100 paintings by Seyffert, his uncle, and his grandfather, was shown in Baltimore, New York, and Washington, D.C.

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