He's the man best known for his two Academy Awards, but last night, there was Robert De Niro sitting on a couch in the corner of the Drawing Room at the Greenwich Hotel, a small group of acquaintances around him as he was casually shooting the breeze.
De Niro had gathered friends, acquaintances, editors, artists and the film crowd to celebrate artist R.H. Quaytman, the sixth recipient of The Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, named for the actor's father, Robert De Niro Sr., an acclaimed New York artist who was part of the New York-school of post-war American artists. The prize, administered by the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI), recognizes a mid-career artist for devotion to the pursuit and excellence of painting. Quaytman also received 25,000.
A selection committee of distinguished individuals in the art world nominates candidates and selects the prize recipient. It included Kelly Baum, curator of Postwar and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Katherine Brinson, curator, Contemporary Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Scott Rothkopf, deputy director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator at the Whitney.
“Rebecca Quaytman makes some of the smartest, most intriguing paintings in the United States,” said Baum. “The work she has produced since 2001, which is conceived as a series of chapters, each one based on extensive research, brilliantly triangulates form, content, and structure. It also addresses self-consciously the conditions of its own reception in time and space, just as it considers explicitly the nature of painting and perception today. We wanted to recognize the importance of Quaytman’s work to the history of American painting as well as the crucial role Quaytman played as director of Orchard between 2005 and 2008.”
Brinson continued, “R. H. Quaytman's practice explores the critical agency of contemporary painting with a rare incision. Drawing on diverse visual sources and conceptual references, her works cohere into a poetic meditation on the layered, relational, and highly perspectival interpretive possibilities offered by the painted image.”
Rothkopf added, "The conceptual rigor of Quaytman's work is matched by a surprising emotional sensitivity and timbre. Her paintings eloquently evoke a poetic sensibility and range of moods that can feel almost expressionistic despite their often mechanical and mediated means."
Quaytman is best known for her paintings on wood panels that incorporate photography, digital technologies, and printmaking techniques that are the result of extensive research precipitated by the historical, architectural or social aspects of particular sites.
Later in the night, Stephen Hancock gave remarks regarding two artists Al Kresch and Paul Resica, and De Niro thanked them for their hard work, friendship and support with a surprise gift: two paintings by his father.