In the 1950s amid New York City’s bustling art scene, a handsome, dark-eyed painter made his mark as an abstract expressionist.
His son is much more well known today because of his acting credits, but the late Robert De Niro Sr. was a renowned artist who influenced the next generation of abstract artists.
With his wild black pompadour, De Niro cut a striking figure in New York City’s art scene. Unlike many abstract artists, De Niro’s work was figurative. In addition to his study of color and space, De Niro often painted nudes and still lifes. That set him apart from other artists, said Jennifer Bottomly-O’Looney, senior curator of the Montana Historical Society.
“He was really rather prolific,” Bottomly-O’Looney said. “He did painting and he did drawings with pastel. Some artists would use thick layers of paint and carve into it using a palette knife or a stick. Some artists would express with