Robert Henry DeNiro (1922-1993), better known as Robert DeNiro Sr., was an American painter and the father of actor Robert DeNiro. DeNiro Sr. was part of the celebrated New York School of post-war American artists. His work blended abstract and expressionist styles of painting with traditional representational subject matter, bridging the divide between European Modernism and Abstract Expressionism. DeNiro began painting at a young age, studying at the Black Mountain College under Albers and in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts with Hans Hoffman. There he met fellow student Virginia Admiral, whom he married in 1942.
DeNiro’s career took off in the mid-1940s, with shows at Peggy Guggenheim’s renowned Art of This Century gallery in New York alongside artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still. In 1946 Guggenheim awarded DeNiro his first solo show, a prestigious honor for the 24- year-old painter. Throughout the 1950s he exhibited at the Charles Egan Gallery, the Whitney Annual, the Stable Annual and the Jewish Museum. He received a Longview Foundation Purchase award in 1958.
When the art world began to favor Pop Art over DeNiro’s figurative expressionism in the 1960s, DeNiro moved to Paris where he continued to draw inspiration from European modernists such as Matisse and Bonnard. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship following his return to New York in 1968. In the 1970s he became a professor, teaching at several art schools across the country, and continued to exhibit in galleries until his death in 1993.