Robert Gwathmey

Gwathmey, Robert (gwăthˈmē) [key], 1903–88, American painter, b. Richmond, Va. Gwathmey taught at Cooper Union from 1942 to 1968. Among the first white artists to portray African Americans with dignity, he created paintings with flat areas of color that combine empathy for impoverished Southern blacks with intense atmospheric effects of harsh sun and parched earth. Representative of his works, which are found in many museums, is Sowing (Whitney Mus., New York City).

See biography by M. Kammen (1999).

His son, Charles Gwathmey, 1938–2009, b. Charlotte, N.C., was an American architect. He is particularly known for residential structures, from with the small, modernist Hamptons, Long Island, house he designed (1966) early in his career for his parents to the signature mansions he created later. During the 1960s he was one of the "New York Five," which also included John Hejduk, Michael Graves, Peter Eisenman, and Richard Meier, modernist architects inspired by Le Corbusier's purist forms. Throughout the years Gwathmey remained loyal to the high modernist style. In 1968 he and Robert Siegel opened the firm Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. Gwathmey's later buildings include an addition to New York's Guggenheim Museum (1992), the New York Public Library system's Science, Industry, and Business Library (1995), and the addition to Yale's Art and Architecture Building (2008).

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