Robert Cottingham is one of the key figures in American Photorealism and is my favourite artist amongst the genre, though I think of his work as less ‘photographic’ and more ‘graphic’. They remind me of the urban works of Edward Hopper with their strong light and shade; both indeed depict street scenes in New York City (see the comparison I’ve made below with the Barber Shop work). In Cottenham’s work he shows fragments of neon signs, storefront marquees, railroad boxcars, letter forms, and more recently, cameras and typewriters. The first piece of work shown below, the tongue in cheek “Art”, is probably the best known and will be familiar to many from the ubiquitous reproductions.
Cottingham was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935 and received his B.F.A. from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
He held his first solo show in New York City at the famous O.K. Harris Gallery in 1971. He has also exhibited in many seminal group shows throughout the United States, France and Germany.
Robert Cottingham's work can be found in the following museums and collections: National Gallery of Art, Washington, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, National Academy of Design, New York, Orlando Museum of Art, Florida, Seavest Collection of Contemporary American Realism, University of Virginia Art Museum.