Robert M. Ellis (1922-2014)
The following excerpt is from a text accompanying our 2009 exhibition, Robert Ellis: A Select Retrospective 1950s - 2009, written by Louise Lewis (Director Emeritus, Art Galleries, and Professor Emeritus, Art History, California State University Northridge).
For more than a half century Robert Ellis has immersed himself in several facets of the professional art world, with careers as a graphic designer, museum educator, museum director, and college professor. It is his painting career, however, that has provided the connective and sustaining filament for his creative accomplishments.
This current exhibition gives an abridged overview of the artistic paths he has taken, from the late 1950s to the present. The collection of works here emphasizes the artist’s formative years, introducing his initial interest in light as a formal and expressive tool. As startling as are the transformations seen here-- from his early abstracted and ephemeral landscapes to the mid-career hyper-perspectival interiors and landscapes, to the most recent structured abstractions, the one constant that pervades these diverse stylistic approaches is his interest in the qualities of light.
This interest is not surprising given that Ellis has spent the majority of his life in the Southwest, specifically Southern California and New Mexico. However, it was at the Rogue River, Oregon (and later France) where he first started experimenting with an impressionist approach to light and its ephemeral qualities. Feathery landscapes float off a white canvas, verging on the abstract, notably in the Rogue River, Man in Nature and Trees series of the 1960s.
Robert M. Ellis at 203 Fine Art
Schools of Study
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 1950-52
Mexico City College, Mexico City 1948-1950
Cleveland School of Art, Cleveland, OH 1956-48
Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 1940-42
Lifetime Achievement Award from Peter and Madeleine Martin Foundation 2013
Wurlitzer Foundation 2008
New Mexico Governor’s Award 1998
Regents Meritorious Service Medal from the University of New Mexico 1997
Special Recognition Award of the University of New Mexico 1997
Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM 2016
The University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM 1991
David Stuart Galleries, Los Angeles, CA 1978
Jonson Gallery, Albuquerque, NM 1964
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, CA 1961