A New York Outsider

ROBERT KIPPUR

Robert Kippur, an art school reject, was completely self-taught. He was born in 1944 and lived in 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. The sheer scale, ambition, and visceral nature of this body of work, has rarely 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, thequintessential 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. 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 versions of the damned in Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” or Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgement. The figural compositions and scale of the Kippur paintings, puts one in mind, of Thomas Hart Benton’s, mural masterpieces. Robert Kippur died in 2015.

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