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Robert Vickrey
Renee’s Landscape
Egg tempera on panel

12 x 16 inches
© The Estate of Robert Vickrey

Excerpt from Fairfield’s Philip Eliasoph celebrates painter Robert Vickrey by By Alistair Highet:

Robert Vickrey has been one of America’s preeminent realist painters since 1952 when, barely out of the Yale University School of Art, his painting Labyrinth - depicting a nun caught in a bleak labyrinth of corridors – was selected for the Whitney Annual Exhibition. In subsequent years, his paintings, praised for their presentation of the “mysterious in the apparently commonplace,” would be chosen for the Whitney exhibit on eight more occasions, and he would be described by New York Times critic John Canaday as “most surely the world’s most proficient craftsman in egg tempera painting.”

Not that Vickrey would always be in critical favor. While his work is in the collections of 80 leading museums, and the 78 covers that he painted for Time magazine between 1957 and 1968 of public figures like Nikita Khrushchev remain iconic images of the Cold War era, Vickrey has followed a personal vision that has not always been in step with the times. He is dedicated to pictorial representation and a repetition of symbolic themes that have led him to be described as a surrealist, a magic realist, or dismissed as a mere illustrator. During the 1950s and early 1960s, when Abstract Expressionism was the fashion, Vickrey and other realists were pushed to the margins. By the time photo-realism emerged in the 1970s, older realists like Vickrey had already fallen off the critical radar screen.

More than a thousand paintings and drawings later, at the age of 83, Vickrey is still painting. On March 23, Fairfield University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., presented the artist – who lived in Fairfield for many years – with the Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., Award for Excellence in the Arts. The award coincided with a retrospective exhibit of the artist’s work in the University’s Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery, and the publication of Robert Vickrey: The Magic of Realism by Dr. Philip Eliasoph, professor of art history in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Fairfield.

Continued: Fairfield’s Philip Eliasoph celebrates painter Robert Vickrey by By Alistair Highet


Robert Vickrey, American, (1926-2011)
b. August 26, 1926, New York, NY
d. 2012

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