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Robert Peterson - Artists - GAVLAK

Robert Peterson (b. 1981, lives in Lawton, Oklahoma) is a contemporary artist known for his figurative paintings that focus on the nuanced representation of African American life. His work explores themes of diversity, injustice, and the beauty of Black skin, using a naturalistic style reminiscent of editorial photography. Peterson’s portraits often feature minimal backdrops and employ shifts in tone and color to highlight the sensual qualities of paint and the physical presence of his subjects. Shades of blue in particular emphasize the musculature and tenderness of his figures, enhancing the emotional depth of his work.

Peterson’s artistic journey began with painting images of celebrities, but as he developed his practice, he evolved into painting individuals from his community and family. This shift allowed him to create more intimate and authentic works that reflect his personal experiences and those who surround him. His subjects often directly engage with the viewer, offering a moment of reflection and connection.

Peterson is recognized as the first African American ever to receive the title Artist of the Year in Southwest Oklahoma. In 2023, the United States Postal Service featured the artist’s portrait of author Ernest J. Gaines on the 46th Forever Stamp in their Black Heritage Series. His work was recently the subject of a solo exhibition, titled Robert Peterson: Homecoming, at the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK. His work can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY; Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK; Weisman Museum of Art, Minneapolis, MN; Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS; and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL.


b. 1981 Denver, CO 
Lives and works in Lawton, OK 

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2024 Robert Peterson: Somewhere in America, Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS
2023 Robert Peterson: Homecoming, Philbrook Museum, Tulsa, OK
2022 When You See Them, You See Me, Claire Oliver, New York, NY
2018 Works of Robert Peterson, Museum of Great Plains, Lawton, OK
2017 His-Story, Leslie Powell Gallery, Lawton, OK
2016 Iconic Pairs, JRB Art at the Elms Gallery, Oklahoma City, OK
2015 About Face, JRB Art at the Elms Gallery, Oklahoma City, OK
2014 Faces of New York, SDG Gallery, New York City, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

2023 Art Now: The Soul is a Wanderer, Oklahoma Contemporary, Oklahoma City, OK
2023 Reflections, Albertz Benda, New York City, NY
2023 Do You See Me, Albertz Benda, Los Angeles, CA
2022 Untitled Art, Albertz Benda, Miami, FL
2022 1-54 Art Fair, Claire Oliver, London
2022 Future Perfect, Claire Oliver, New York, NY
2022 Expo, Claire Oliver, Chicago, IL
2021 Untitled Art, Claire Oliver, Miami, FL
2021 Masterpiece II, Band of Vices, Los Angeles, CA
2020 Believing is Achieving, Sand Springs Historical Museum, Tulsa, OK
2020 LA Art Show, Patrick Painter, Los Angeles, CA
2019 ArtsOK, Broken Arrow Museum of Art, Broken Arrow, OK
2019 Threesome International Show, 19 Karen Contemporary Gallery, Mermaid Beach, AU
2019 The Art Social, NYCH Gallery, Chicago, IL
2019 Art Aspen, Bruce Lurie Gallery, Aspen, CO
2018 Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH
2017 Art for Rights, Amnesty International, Los Angeles, CA
2017 Analog Angels, Greg Stuff Group Exhibition, Brooklyn, NY
2016 Self Image, SDG Gallery, Art Basel Miami, Miami, FL
2015 Kaeidoscope NYC, Eastmen Collective, New York, NY
2014 Provocateur/ Paddle 8 presents the best of the best, Paddle 8, Soho, NY

Selected Public & Private Collections

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH
Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN
Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK
Museum of Fine Art, St. Pete’s, Saint Petersburg, FL
Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS
The Bunker, West Palm Beach, FL
United States Postal Service USA
Beth Rudin DeWoody
Michael and Susan Hort
John and Amy Phelan
Dr. V. Joy Simmons
Gardy St Fleur
Elliot Perry
Ayesha Selden
Jane Holzer

Selected Bibliography

2024 Kinney, Michael. Robert Peterson: Ten Years to the Top. LUXIERE. Edition 36.
         Accessed June 13, 2024.
2023 Clayton, Dominique. Ayesha Selden Wants Her Collection to Reflect the Black
. Cultured Magazine. June 9, 2023.
2023 Janofsky, Michael. Museums Look Locally for Growth And, Sometimes, Survival.
         The New York Times, April 25, 2023.
2022 afinelyne. 'Robert Peterson: When You See Them, You See Me' to Open at Claire
         Oliver Gallery
. GothamToGo. September 2, 2022.
2022 Davis-Marks, Isis. How Mashonda Tifrere’s New Exhibition ‘to Each, Her Own’ Puts
         Women First.
Cultured Magazine. March 18, 2022.
2022 Waddoups, Ryan. Robert Peterson’s Intimate Portraits of Black Peace and Strength.
         SURFACE. October 19, 2022.
2021 Staff. Artist Spotlight: Robert Peterson. BOOOOOOOM! December 29, 2021.
2021 Walters, Kelly. Faces of Art: Robert Peterson Spreads Messages of Empowerment
         with His Contemporary Portraits
. Aspire Design and Home. April 29, 2021.

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