Robert Philipp (1895 – 1981)
Robert Philipp was born Moses Solomon Philipp on February 2, 1895 in New York City. He showed early talent and grew up in a family atmosphere that fed and cultivated his creativity. At age of 15, he entered the Art Students League for four years and then continued his training at the National Academy of Design. His teachers at the League included George Bridgeman and Frank DuMond, and at the National Academy he studied with Douglas Volk and George Willoughby Maynard.
Recognition cam quickly to Philipp, and his early works exhibit an eclectic range of artistic sources: Vermeer, Rembrandt, Renoir, Bonnard, Sargent and Fantin-Latour. After the death of his father, Philipp turned away from painting for a time and joined his uncle’s opera company as a tenor. He eventually returned to painting and settled in Paris, living there in the 1920s. The exact date of Paris sojourn is not known, but he reportedly lived there for ten years, supporting himself through the sale of his paintings.
Back in New York in the early 1930s, Philipp was gaining a reputation for his portraits and figure studies. His – Olympia – won the Logan prize at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1936 and was subsequently purchase by J. Paul Getty. During the Depression, he worked for the Public Works of Arts Project.
In 1934, he married artist Shelly (Rochelle) Post, who became his favorite model until her death in 1971. Critic Henry McBride called Philipp “One of the top ten painters in America.” It was during the 1930s that he began to paint landscapes, still lives and nudes evolving a distinctively lyric and modern style.
Philipp painted passionately and directly creating a synthesis of observation and poetic vision using high keyed colors and rhythmic treatment of form. Philipp’s work, in his later years, began to increasingly resemble the Expressionist and emotional style of Chaim Soutine.
Philipp, as a teacher at the Art Students League for over thirty years and at the National Academy for sixteen years, was an important influence on American art. As a teacher, he was well known for his attention to color and his constant emphasis on the importance of drawing. He was a member of the Lotus Club, National Academy of Design and Royal Society of Arts.
His works are in the collections of the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas Museum, Texas; Metropolitan Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City.
Biography attached to the back of an original oil painting by Robert Philipp.
Information provided by Arlene Lachman, Lachman Gallery