Robert Reed 1938-2014

VCCA is very saddened to report the death of its great friend and supporter Robert Reed on December 26, 2014. A former VCCA board member and founder and Director of the Institute for Studio Studies at VCCA's the Moulin à Nef in Auvillar, France (part of Yale University’s Summer Session), Robert’s "commitment to VCCA in Auvillar helped ensure the success of the program," according to Sheila Gulley Pleasants VCCA Director of Artists Services. Robert's widow, Susan Whetstone, relates that VCCA was "such a crucial part of his being able to pursue his passion to teach studio arts. There was nothing more important to him than "his" program in Auvillar and he counted it as one of his singularly most significant accomplishments."   

Robert was a highly regarded member of the faculty of Yale University’s School of Art’s Department of Painting and Printmaking for almost fifty years where he was a beloved professor known for his “tough love” style of teaching.

A gifted artist who used a dynamic language of abstract forms, Robert’s paintings and paper constructions have a palpable energy with bold, jagged shapes and vibrant colors that threaten to explode off the surface. Though firmly rooted in an abstract expressionist formalism, Robert used his work as a means to process and document personal experiences. During his career, Robert participated in group shows at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, the Biennial of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. Robert had solo shows at the Whitney; the Fralin Museum and Second Street Gallery both in Charlottesville, Virginia; the Washburn Gallery in New York; and the McIntosh Gallery in Atlanta. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Fralin Museum.

Born in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1938, Robert received his BS in 1958 from Morgan State, a historically black college located in Baltimore. His lengthy association with Yale followed. He received his BFA in 1960 and his MFA two years later. It was in 1969 that Robert began his teaching career at the university when he was appointed a professor of Painting and Printmaking.

Robert also served as Director of Undergraduate Studies at the School and was also Director of Graduate Studies in Painting. In addition to his teaching duties at Yale, Robert also lectured extensively and taught at Skidmore College and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he was head of the Foundation Studies Division in 1964.

Robert’s commitment to intensive studio studies and practice was reflected in his close ties not just to VCCA but also to the MacDowell Colony where he also served on the board, and to Yaddo where he was a fellow.

Robert received many awards and accolades including a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1980, the national award from the National Council of Art Administrators in 2000, and in 2001 he received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 2004 Robert received the Distinguished Teaching of Art award from the College Art Association. He was elected to the National Academy Fellowship in New York in 2009.

Robert had been ill for several years and while waging his courageous battle with cancer, he never waivered from his dedication to his students. VCCA extends its condolences to Robert’s family and wide circle of colleagues, students and friends.


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