Robert Ecker, American (1936 - )

Robert Ecker

Robert Rodgers Ecker was born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania in 1936. Growing up there and also spending significant periods of time in Hagerstown with his maternal grandparents and two aunts, his childhood exposure to the fine arts came at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

Ecker’s engagement with the history of art often finds witty and cryptic articulation. Obviously the title of this work, Anxious Objects, is a direct reference to Harold Rosenberg’s 1964 book of the same title. The juxtaposition of one of Robert Motherwell’s images from his iconic series, Elegy to the Spanish Republic, and a fluorescent green tennis ball is a bit more enigmatic, perhaps an act of artistic fusion or hybridity creating another object laden with anxiety.

Ecker began making mezzotints in 1977. As he notes, “I began them after teaching and circumnavigating the world in the Semester at Sea program. Experiencing from sea level the vast expanse of our planet, seeing the astounding numbers and diversity of people, their artifacts, ruins, ingenuity, their balanced dignity within extensive poverty, and the fleeting nature of it all, were altogether quite a blow to my comfortably complacent forty year old American ego. After the voyage I couldn't come to terms with making art as I'd done before, and what I'd been teaching seemed far removed from the experience. I brooded for a couple of months, then determined to begin a series of small mezzotint prints with a plan to do that and no other art for a year. I ended up working steadily on the series for five years. I found the process to be unexpectedly satisfying and meditative… After completing over a hundred and forty plates I felt I'd done what I had to do in the mezzotint medium and went on to the small-scale paintings that make up the bulk of my current work.”

Ecker currently resides and works in north county San Diego, California and suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor's degree from Shippensburg University, attended The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Penn State in 1965. He taught in the Art Departments at Washington State University from 1965 to 1972 and the University of Colorado from 1972 until 2001. He has had more than thirty solo exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad and has been included in more than 150 national and international group exhibitions where he received 30 prizes and purchase awards, including the President's Purchase Award at the Society of American Graphic Artists 58th National Exhibition in New York City and the Award of Merit at the First International Small Print Exhibit in Seoul, Korea. He was also awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Artist's Fellowship, a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship from the University of New Mexico, the Colorado

Council on the Arts Recognition Award in Painting, a Centrum Foundation Residency and Fellowship and two Faculty Fellowships from C.U. His work is in numerous public and private collections including the National Collection (Smithsonian), Yellowstone Art Center, The Printmaking Workshop, New York City, Boston Printmakers, Benziger Family Winery, Denver Art Museum, Pratt Graphics Center, Library of Congress (Pennell Fund Purchase) and the Crocker Museum in Sacramento.

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