Robert Birmelin

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Robert Birmelin
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Newark, New Jersey
Other namesAugust Robert
A. Robert Birmelin
CitizenshipUnited States of America
EducationCooper Union Art School
Yale University School of Art
  • American figurative painter
  • Printmaker
  • Draughtsman

Robert Birmelin (b. 1933) is an American figurative painter, printmaker and draughtsman. In other contexts he is also known as August Robert or A. Robert Birmelin. He was born in Newark, New Jersey and currently resides in Leonia, New Jersey. Robert Birmelin is best known for his paintings and drawings capturing the drama of close physical involvement as experienced in the movement and tensions of the urban crowd. He has also explored a range of other subjects, including landscape and recently, more subjective themes dealing with memory and time, often employing double imagery. Since 2016 he has focused mainly on drawing, producing several long horizontal narrative works, inspired by the format of Chinese and Japanese scrolls he has studied at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Drawing from life, from memory and imagination are central to his practice, strongly believing they yield more vigorous, personal visual imagery, than does the habit of relying to photographic sources, as is common among many contemporary figurative artists.[1]


Birmelin studied at the Cooper Union Art School (1951-1954)[2] and Yale University School of Art (1954-1956, BFA and 1959-1960, MFA), where Josef Albers, Bernard Chaet, and Gabor Peterdi were his most important mentors. He received a Fulbright Fellowship to the Slade School of the University of London (1960-61), followed by a Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome (1961-64).[1]

Exhibition History

Birmelin's work has been seen in 55 one-person exhibitions in the USA and internationally, from his first show at The Stable Gallery[3] in New York in 1960 to his most recent show at the Luise Ross Gallery in New York in 2016.[4] His exhibitions include retrospectives at:

He has also participated in many group exhibitions in the United States and Europe.

Birmelin’s works are represented in 50 public collections, among them The Metropolitan Museum of Art[5], The Museum of Modern Art[6], and The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C.[7][8]


Birmelin has received awards and grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, The National Academy, The American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Joan Mitchell Foundation, as well as four grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and three from The National Endowment for the Arts.[3]


Birmelin was Professor in the Art Department at Queens College of The City University of New York[1] from 1964 to 1999, and also has lectured at colleges and universities through out the US.

Personal Life

In 1960, he and Blair Tillisch (1937-2020) were married.[9] She was an artist and novelist.[10][11] They have two sons: Lucas, a medical doctor[12] and Nicholas, a musician.[13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Schwabsky, Barry (December 14, 1997). "IN PERSON; Commuter Artist". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2020.
  2. Thieves, Noemi Charlotte (February 22, 2013). "Where Would You Be Without Cooper? Robert Birmelin A'54". YouTube. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Robert Birmelin: Recent Paintings, Maine and New York". March 1980. Retrieved December 17, 2020.
  4. "Robert Birmelin: The End of Certainty". MutualArt. Retrieved December 17, 2020.
  5. Birmelin, A. Robert (1980). "City Crowd–Cop and Ear". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  6. "Robert Birmelin". MoMA. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  7. Birmelin, Robert (1978–1981). "EDGE OF THE CITY WITH BELTWAY". Hirshhorn. Retrieved December 18, 2020.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  8. "Robert Birmelin Bio". Alpha Gallery. Retrieved December 17, 2020.
  9. "Blair Birmelin". echovita. March 21, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  10. Birmelin, Blair T. (Fall 1997). "Portrait". Weber: The Contemporary West. 14.3 – via Weber State University.
  11. "Birmelin, Blair T." WorldCat. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  12. "Dr. Lucas A. BirmelinMD". U.S. News. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  13. Turtle Bay Music School. "Artist Series at TBMS. 2018-2019." Leaflet. Accessed December 18, 2020.

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