Signed, dated and titled
Holly Solomon label on verso
Ex. Coll: Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, NY 1983; to Private Collection, Florida until 2014
Exhibited: Robert Kushner, Solo Exhibition, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, NY 1983
Robert Kushner burst on to the art scene in the early 1970’s as a performance artist whose costumes were as important as the actual performance. As the only child of the Abstract Expressionist artist Dorothy Browdy Kushner, Robert Kushner’s creativity was nutured by his mother. He studied painting at the University of California at San Diego. In an interview with Lynn Herman in 2006, Kushner said that most of his teachers were encouraging him to “do acrylic on canvas, preferably hard-edge or color-field.” He and his friend Kim MacConnell where inspired by “the range of what was, at the time, not considered art…mostly textiles…all in the general range called ‘decoration’. (p. 1). As he tells it this was heresy. Amy Goldin, an art historian and critic who was teaching at UCSD at the time, became tremendously influential. Under her tutelage, Kushner and his friend MacConnell began to grapple and explore decoration.
Inspired by what Goldin and Kushner experienced traveling through Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey in 1974, they founded the Pattern & Decoration movement in New York on their return. Initially the work was largely performance based, emphasizing the action of the patterned and decorated costumes. This evolved and Kushner began focusing on paintings and works on paper.
The 1980’s were an exciting period in Kushner’s career. The decade began with his inclusion in the 1980 Venice Biennale. Holly Solomon the New York City gallerist was an early proponent of the Pattern & Decoration movement. She featured solo exhibitions of Kushner’s work in 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981 and importantly in 1983, where Bebe and Erin was shown. The following year, The Whitney Museum had an exhibition of Kushner’s work called “Paintings on Paper”. The Pattern & Decoration Movement, which Robert Kushner is synonymous with, is considered the last authentic art movement of the 20th Century.
When Kushner is asked who the biggest influences on his art are, he cites Matisse, Bonnard and non-Western art. He continues to paint his romantic paintings – now largely flowers. His paintings and works on paper are found in many leading collections throughout the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, National Gallery of Art, DC, the Tate Modern, London and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.