Art News

Stanley Whitney to Receive First Robert De Niro Sr. Annual Prize

artwork: Stanley Whitney - Untitled - oil on linen, 72" x 72". Courtesy of the artist and Private Collection

NEW YORK, NY.- The Estate of Robert De Niro Sr. announced the inaugural recipient of The Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, an annual award which honors an outstanding mid-career American painter. New York-based artist Stanley Whitney will receive the $25,000 award, administered by the Tribeca Film Institute, for his considerable contribution to the field of painting. The merit-based prize—among the first to celebrate and shine a light on mid-career artists—honors the work and legacy of accomplished painter De Niro Sr. A selection committee of distinguished individuals in the art world was appointed to nominate candidates and select the prize recipient. Whitney was selected by a jury including Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; Agnes Gund, President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art and Chairman of its International Council and Chairman of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission of the City of New York; Barry Schwabsky, art critic for The Nation; and Robert Storr, Yale University’s Dean of the School of Art.

“Stanley’s work and the way he practices his craft both show what this prize is all about—honoring a person with great passion for and lifelong commitment to art,” said Robert De Niro. “I am so proud to pay tribute to my father through this inaugural prize in his name, and to recognize and support an artist who has achieved so much throughout his career.”

In a statement, the jury added: “For the recipient of the first Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, we have selected a painter who represents the spirit of commitment, independence, and invention that marked De Niro’s own work as an artist. Stanley Whitney proves that you can be a traditionalist without being a conservative. His concerns are those of painters from the Venetians through Delacroix to the Abstract Expressionists : color, light, and a sense of movement communicated through visual rhythm—but his painting is a continual adventure in these realms that he shows to be without limit. For many years he has worked with a consistent set of structuring devices but has used them as a basis for more than just variations on a theme, for the true structural basis of Whitney’s art is color, not shape, and he rediscovers it anew each time.

artwork: Stanley Whitney - "Big Love", 2006 - Oil on linen, 72 x 72".

It continued, “Keeping faith with the open possibilities of painting, Whitney has been not only admired by his peers but an inspiration to younger artists, both through his paintings and as a teacher. Over his nearly four decades of teaching, Whitney has not only taught young artists about the process and practice of art, but instilled in his students a deep understanding of art in its truest forms beyond the whims of fashion. We are pleased to offer the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize to an artist who so ardently interprets the sense of life through the fundamentals of painting.”

Stanley Whitney earned his BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute and came to New York in 1968 to attend the Studio School. He was encouraged by painter Rob Reid to attend Yale University, where he earned his MFA and studied under painter Al Held. Whitney served as Chair of the Painting and Drawing Department at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and also taught at the Rome campus. He is currently Professor Emeritus at Tyler School of Art. Distinguished by his Modernist abstract style that featured casual geometry and bold color, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996, a Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2002, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2010. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across The U.S. and abroad; among them the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, The Studio Museum Harlem, Magazzino d’Arte Moderna Rome, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art , and the Tang Museum. Whitney is represented by Team Gallery in New York and Christine Koenig Galerie in Vienna, Austria. His paintings are held in numerous private and public collections all over the world.

De Niro 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. He studied at the renowned Black Mountain College with Josef Albers, and later with Hans Hofmann in Provincetown and New York. He went on to exhibit at Peggy Guggenheim’s renowned Art of this Century gallery in 1945 and 1946, as well as at galleries throughout the U.S. during his career. In 2010, a retrospective exhibition of his work was presented at the Musée Matisse in Nice, France. De Niro Sr.’s work is found in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum , Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Parrish Art Museum, among others. The Estate of Robert De Niro, Sr. is represented by DC Moore Gallery , New York, and is advised by Megan Fox Kelly and Jeffrey Hoffeld. The prize is funded by Robert De Niro.