Disinterring Robert Kippur - A New York Outsider who died surrounded by his paintings.
by 5T1V on February 1 2017.
“Robert Kippur: A New York Outsider”, a newly discovered collection of paintings by a previously unknown artist. Seven works will be on view at the RIVAA Gallery, 527 Main Street, New York, NY, with an opening reception on Wednesday February 8th from 6:30- 9:30 pm.
Robert Kippur was born in 1944 and lived in complete isolation in a ground floor apartment on West 22nd St. A bus driver by day, his vitriolic temper left him with virtually no friends and estranged from his family. In his solitude, he was tormented by crippling nightmares.
He expressed these nightmares and feelings of isolation through his art, initially at the urging of his therapist.
After his death, the City of New York took custody of his possessions, and the collection was revealed to a private network of art dealers in conjunction with the sale of the apartment. A large body of massive works — in some cases as large as 16 x 9 feet — depict his disturbing internal torment. In his parallel world, the viewer is not merely a spectator to the macabre, but also immersed as a participant, as the artist must have been.
Kippur, an art school reject, was completely self-taught. His painterly brushstrokes are paired with colors so vibrant they border on the distorted. Figures in electric purples, greens, and pallid yellows partake in distorted orgies of dual mutilation and ecstasy, looking away from one another in agony like contemporary version's of the damned in Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights" or Michelangelo's "The Last Judgement".
The sheer scale, ambition, and visceral nature of this body of work has never been seen in the field of “Outsider Art”. The works are beautifully crafted with thick brush strokes reminiscent of the School of London artists such as Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach. Robert Kippur painted his crippling anxieties. These anxieties prohibited him from fully functioning in mainstream society or pursuing a place in the art world. Because of this, classifying these works becomes more challenging. His status as a loner places his art closer to the oeuvre of Henry Darger, the quintessential early 20th century “outsider" artist from Chicago. Like Kippur, Darger was also isolated in his studio apartment and produced a body of work which was an expression of his personal ordeal.
Robert Kippur died in late december of 2015. It took several weeks before he was discovered, surrounded by his paintings in his studio appartment.