Robert Kipniss – Better give up the ghost

Robert Kipniss (born Brooklyn, New York, February 1, 1931) is an American painter and printmaker. His mature paintings, lithographs, mezzotints, and drypoints share stylistic characteristics and subject matter and typically depict trees seen close up or at varying distances in fields. Other works show one or more houses in a landscape or town setting. Some are interiors with a view toward a window or with a still life set close to one, frequently with a landscape beyond. No human figures are present, and all forms are reduced to essentials. The time is often dusk or nighttime. Kipniss’ use of exceptionally subtle black and white tones or, less often, lightly toned hues creates an overall atmospheric effect. His works have been described as conveying solitude and inward experience. Kipniss often uses the subject matter of a painting in a lithograph or mezzotint, sometimes with variations. His paintings date from the early 1950s. His main body of prints are lithographs and mezzotints, the former dating from 1968 into 1990, the latter since 1990.

Kipniss himself has indicated various locations as important sources of inspiration, especially on his scenes with houses. The locations include the streets and neighborhoods of Springfield, Ohio, which he sometimes sketched during his first two college years and revisited in 1979, taking photographs and sketching alleys and streets at twilight. He returned over the next twenty years to continue sketching. In 1999 Kipniss described how this location influenced his artistic development: “‘The elements that remain a large part of my imagery all my working life began to emerge in these sketches: mysterious windowless houses, backyard fences, trees leafless in the off-season. . . . My work remains unpopulated because I can then become as if the lone inhabitant, and when the work leaves my hands, who stands before it becomes for a moment me, alone, there.’”

Other locations that inspired Kipniss were alleys in Columbus, Ohio, which he sketched in 1958. In 1989 he briefly visited Elsah, Illinois, a small town on the Missouri River (since 1974 on the National Register of Historic Places) where the narrow streets and many limestone houses made an impression on him. He returned the next year to do sketches that became the basis of works in other mediums. In 1993 the woods and fields of northwestern Connecticut provided inspiration for paintings and mezzotints.

still-life-w-knife-fruit_0robert_kipniss_0ebacaa6d14d62f0cec5fa829e3c52a1 2030c38c8330dba5a331176d1368986f Robert_Kipniss_Hidden_Pathway_520robert_kipniss_89c4fbdbecf3692e5d0ba7434811ed09--green-roofs-art-galleryrobert_kipniss_TheEdge  robert_kipniss_Spring-Secrets.jpg_backup robert_kipniss_ShadowedHillside robert_kipniss_Secrets robert_kipniss_robertkipness_102297_3 robert_kipniss_robertkipness_5310_8 robert_kipniss_robert-kipniss-american-b-1931-weather-moving-through robert_kipniss_RoadsideElsah robert_kipniss_picket-fence-ii robert_kipniss_original robert_kipniss_Invitations robert_kipniss_InteriorwSuspendedPlant.jpg_backup robert_kipniss_fourhouses1991 robert_kipniss_For_Stella robert_kipniss_cafa10992768c6cf680ece7b759085e3 robert_kipniss_BackyardII.jpg_backup robert_kipniss_backyard-iv robert_kipniss_backyard-iii robert_kipniss_AsTheRainEnds robert_kipniss_APrivatePorch robert_kipniss_27055873666_784bb2a01e_o robert_kipniss_27020830131_c9d257b399_b robert_kipniss_11704044_1_x robert_kipniss_11467786_1 robert_kipniss_321472 robert_kipniss_110401-d-kipniss-r-windowatdusk-p robert_kipniss_110401-d-kipniss-r-vasechairandtrees-p robert_kipniss_110401-d-kipniss-r-stilllifewithchairandstandinglamp-p robert_kipniss_86356 robert_kipniss_86346 robert_kipniss_85216 robert_kipniss_2211_2 robert_kipniss_276e3619d5a4808718c54bf8a1d2e0cf--printmaking-robert-richard robert_kipniss_152f724cee06281cb8effe8dba2e1dd1--robert-richard-land robert_kipniss_1abf7e9ab251934b88069f7cf22964cd--graphic-art-robert-richard robert_kipniss_de042c41a8c449a547e62d56608ad7c7--nocturne-tree-artrobert_kipniss_withoutwithin1978 robert_kipniss_Winterrobert_kipniss_ThickTreesrobert_kipniss_StudioFlowersrobert_kipniss_vasewithbranchesandchair2013robert_kipniss_shadows-ii.jpg_backup robert_kipniss_Silver morning_Robert Kipniss_20683732071451746129