Robert Cottingham

Robert Cottingham (b. 1935, Brooklyn, New York) is best known for his photorealistic depictions of mid-20th-century signage, storefront marquees, railroad boxcars, and vintage cameras. However, he does not consider himself a photorealist artist. While derived from photographs, his imagery expands on the photographic image rather than striving simply to replicate it. Cottingham received his BFA from the Pratt Institute in 1963. He received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1974 that allowed him to tour the United States via Greyhound bus. During this trip through twenty-seven cities, he captured thousands of photos of signage. This trove of collected images has served as source material for his artwork ever since. Cottingham’s work has been included in many significant exhibitions, including Documenta in Kassel, Serpentine Gallery in London, Centre National d’Art Contemporain in Paris, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Museum of American Art in Washington D.C., among others. A major retrospective of his work was exhibited at the Butler Institute of Art in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2016. His work can be found in the permanent collections of important museums throughout the United States and Europe, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Boymans-von Beuningen Museum in the Netherlands, Hamburg Museum in Germany, and Tate Gallery in London. Robert Cottingham lives in Newton, Connecticut.

The catalog Robert Cottingham: An American Alphabet A-Z is available for purchase in our shop here.

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