LaHotan Redeux
December 1, 2017 to February 2, 2018

View all pieces by Robert LaHotan.

 

Born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Robert L. LaHotan grew up in Western Massachusetts. He received both his B.A. and M.F.A degrees from Columbia University, where he studied with Stephen Greene, John Heliker, and Meyer Schapiro. He was  a two-time winner of the Emily Lowe Award in 1952 and 1957, and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Frieburg, Germany from 1953-1955, 

 

The selection of works in this exhibition, drawn from his early years, reflect the vitality and love of color which would mark his long career in New York, as well as the early impact of the landscape of Maine on this young abstract artist. He spent over half a century producing works on canvas known for their lyrical color and structural compositions. His paintings are held in many private and public collections across the United States.

 

Writing in 1961 about this early work, Art News critic Valerie Peterson said: 

 

He develops a continuous idea in all his canvases––that of disassociating a small space from the organic activity around it, giving to this space a distinct and regular shape, usually rectangular, and using this uninvolved territory as an escape clause from the tensions contained within the painting area, or as an anchor upon which the tensions can depend for support. LaHotan is concerned with the “things” he is describing and with intellectual structuring which interprets these “things” with clarity and purpose.

 

More than twenty years later, though the appearance of the work had changed, poet Rosanna Warren would echo

 

The lessons of LaHotan’s familiar ghost, Bonnard, have been deeply absorbed: in these Maine wood scenes and still lifes, mass and space, the material and the immaterial, fluctuate and interpenetrate in a vibrating game of give and take.

 

In addition to his long and productive painting career, LaHotan was an influential supporter of aspiring artists, teaching painting and art history at the Dalton School, an independent school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for 39 years. He was honored as a Dalton Fellow, and as a member of the National Academy of Design. 

 

In the 1950s, artists John Heliker and Robert LaHotan purchased a 19th-century ship-captain’s house on Great Cranberry Island, Maine, off Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. The 19th-century boatsheds and outbuildings were converted over the years to studios, and both artists spent many of the most productive years of their lives regularly painting in Cranberry in the summers and teaching and painting in New York during the winters. Robert LaHotan––Bob as he was known to friends––spent the last two years of his life realizing his vision of turning the property into a residency program for artists on Cranberry. In 2003, the buildings passed to the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation, www.heliker-lahotan.org , which continues to provide residency fellowships for contemporary artists of established ability. Sales from this exhibition support that goal.

 

Patricia Bailey

President, The Heliker-LaHotan Foundation