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Robert Birmelin, born in 1933 in Newark, New Jersey, is well known for his realist paintings capturing the existential drama found in the movement of the urban crowd in New York City.  His paintings depict crowd scenes, integrating a peripheral vision viewpoint of truncated figures, often placed on the edges of his compositions, that pulls the viewer into his crowds. On view in the Collecting Memories exhibition are his early 70s etchings including an artist proof of people stepping out of an elevator.  In that print, the viewer encounters two ghostly like, transparent figures, that have images within their body that are upside down, anticipating his later paintings where he composes reversible images. Birmelin attended the Cooper Union and Skowhegan art schools and received B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees from Yale University. A 1960 Fulbright grant followed by a Prix de Rome in 1961 enabled him to study for a year at the Slade School in London.  Birmelin has had numerous group and solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States.  His paintings are represented in 50 public and university museum collections, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others.  He has received numerous awards and grants including from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among numerous others.


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