Robert Cottingham

Robert Cottingham (b. 1935) was born in Brooklyn, New York and received his BFA degree from the Pratt Institute. He later also studied art at the Arts Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Although he is known for his photorealistic depictions of signs, storefront marquees, railroad boxcars, and letter forms, Cottingham does not consider himself a photorealist artist. His imagery, while derived from photographs he takes, expands on the photographic image rather than striving simply to replicate it. In 1974, Robert Cottingham received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that allowed him to tour the United States via Greyhound bus. During this trip through twenty-seven cities, he collected thousands of photos of signage. This trove of images he collected has served as source material for Cottingham’s artwork ever since, including his monumental series of prints An American Alphabet. Robert Cottingham’s work has been included in many significant exhibitions at Documenta in Kassel, Serpentine Gallery in London, Centre national d’art contemporain in Paris, The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, 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 every important museum in the United States and Europe including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Boymans-von Beuningen Museum in the Netherlands, the Hamburg Museum in Germany, and the Tate Gallery in London, to name a few.

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