Robert Sudlow, was born on February 25, 1920 in Holton, Kansas, where he spent his childhood, and
developed his love and fascination for the prairies and the essence of life that surrounded him.
In 1942, he received a bachelor of fine arts degree from The University of Kansas, where he studied
under Albert Bloch, who became a mentor for Robert Sudlow. That same year he enlisted in the U.S.
Navy, trained as a pilot, flying sea planes. He earned the rank of Lieutenant Senior Grade and
awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for service in the Western Pacific Theater, World War II.
"While learning to fly in the Navy, I managed to paint a lot of watercolors- swamps, beaches, airfields
After his war service, he spent a year in art academies in Paris. Later, he attended California College
of Arts and Crafts where, in 1956, he received a Master of Fine Arts degree. He studied under the
supervision and teachings of a prominent California painter, Richard Diebenkorn.
In 1962, Sudlow was appointed associate professor of drawing and painting. He took a sabbatical in
Greece, Belgium, Germany, Spain, England, and Irland. In 1971,
He was granted full professorship at the College of Fine Arts at the University of Kansas where, he
continued to teach painting, and retired in 1987.
In 1974, Sudlow was the first artist to be named Kansas Governr's Artist. He was
also named Kansan of the year in 1997 by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas. His paintings
are included in countless exhibitions as well as numerous public and private collections across the
nation and abroad. His works are part of the permanent collections at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of
Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York; The Joslyn Museum of Art,
Omaha, Nebraska; Saint Louis Art Museum; Mulvane Museum of Topeka, Kansas; Wichita Art
Museum; Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University; Spencer Museum of Art,
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas; Baker University, Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St.
Joseph, Missouri, and countless others.
Robert Sudlow Passed away in his Lawrence home on March 2, 2010. He was 90 years old.
Statements by Robert Sudlow
Painting for me is a sort of communion. I paint in the midst of the landscape knowing that
eyes are not enough. I wish for total immersion: touch, smell, sound, and the awareness of the
swift flight of the sun. To paint is to participate, to extend one's senses, to work in sympathy
with an utterly mysterious cosmos. My canvases are not productions: they are imperfect
recordings of a series of happenings."
"The more I paint, the more I become convinced that the greatest mysteries lie in the common
light of day - a weed patch, the mid-western landscape, the polluted but still-living earth. In the
"art world," landscape painting is generally considered passe`. I remain oblivious to this world
and paint such places that most strongly evoke my emotions. I am caught up in my subject and
am convinced that nature is not distinct from man. In celebrating the landscape, I hope I can
also celebrate man."
"My original intent was to be a biological illustrator. As a very poor student at The University of
Kansas, I drew pickled reptiles to keep myself in school. Mercifully, I came under the influence of
Albert Bloch. I took whatever traditions I could digest and forgot what didn't set well. This didn't
always fit well with the art fashions and I had some difficulty both as a teacher and artist. I took the
quest very seriously. All my readings, my love of natural world and music, I tried to turn into paint. In
the beginning I was influenced by the styles of other European master painters. But, as time elapsed
I found my own distinct style of painting that best connected me to nature and forces around me.
Nature is a screen upon which I cast my dreams and has a sense of privacy. Even though Kansas
was in my blood, I went to northern California in the summer months and to Europe every sabbatical
I could manage. But, almost unknown to me, the visual metaphors of Kansas landscape grew
stronger and its common places more haunting. It became a part of my Identity."
"Until the sixties, most of my paintings were done from places and drawings. Landscapes were
usually completed in my studio. Many of the paintings were abstracted patterns taken from nature.
Eventually I found that my paintings were becoming contrived and lifeless. Going outside and
painting directly, while causing a lot of confusion, opened up a new world of possibilities for me. The
visual richness and confrontation with time, place and weather can drive a painter mad. The idea
that one can tackle the infinite is presumptuous. For me photography is also vain. My only alternative
is total immersion and in the end a trust in a extension of awareness. Yes, I become confused; but, I
never fail to sense immensities and I know the quest is endless."
"Watercolor Painting was my first love. It was portable and fresh. Watercolor seemed an ideal
medium for spontaneous discovery. I've never completely abandoned watercolors, however in time I
found the technique carried me into new situations, I needed to explore more in depth."
" Lithography has been a welcomed discipline. In the lithography process the image is drawn upon
grained limestone, then through a very tedious process the image is transferred onto paper. The
stones are heavy, seductive and not very forgiving. Perhaps foolishly I have attempted to take some
of these monsters out into the landscape. Learning the medium has been slow but yet challenging."
"The Oil on Paper paintings are completed out doors. They are attempts to get in between almost
invisible colors and are done within a few hours. The results are an ongoing diary of experience. It is
very necessary for me to make senses real and keep up with forever changing surroundings. I use
whatever material which is compatible with this mysterious quest."
Prairie Hills Art Gallery