Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts Opens Robert Blair: Paintings and Drawings

The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts presents Robert Blair: Paintings and Drawings, on view August 2 – September 24, 2011 .

A longtime friend and former student of artist Robert Blair, Wendy Warner has spent the last year curating an exhibition of the artist’s work for the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts scheduled to open August 2, 2011. Some 52 rarely seen paintings and drawings provide an extraordinary glimpse into Blair’s experience as a paratroop-glider in the 17th and 82nd Airborne Divisions during World War II and his later association and friendship with Charles Burchfield who praised Blair in his journals as one of the only young students whose work he would like to see more of.

The first body of work to be featured at the Hoyt was completed during the Battle of the Bulge, the bloody offensive by the Germans that almost split the Allied Armies in two. Blair received approval of his Colonel to document the disturbing and even horrific scenes of both German and US attacks, provided it did not interfere with his duties. It is possible that these paintings are the only first-hand documentation of the Allied troops countering the German assault on Belgium. Blair says that “… painting under stress had, for me, beneficial results. Working in the dark became a normal procedure – as was drawing and painting on moving vehicles — also, I liked having moving subjects.”

The second body of work to be featured at the Hoyt reflects his post-war life, painting and teaching extensively across the country while remaining in touch with Burchfield. Blair was director at the Art Institute of Buffalo from 1946 – 49. He received two Guggenheim Fellowships which allowed him to travel by motorcycle across the United States, Canada and Mexico documenting the changing geography with fresh perspective. Even Warner chuckled at canvases strapped across the back of Blair’s bike. “I drove to Taos, New Mexico with an unbelievable loaded cycle (people looked at me and gasped, even other cyclists)”, Blair stated in an interview.

Now deceased, the bulk of the Blair’s exhibition was borrowed from the artist’s family, his wife Jeanette and their son Bruce, the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, OH and the Warner family in New Wilmington.

A public reception will be held Saturday, August 20th from 6-8pm. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.

The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, 124 E. Leasure Ave., New Castle, PA 16101
p: 724.652.2882
f: 724.657.8786
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