Robert Cenedella was born in Milford, Massachusetts, in 1940.
Robert Cenedella was born in Milford, Massachusetts in 1940. He received his formal education from The High School of Music & Art in New York, and from The Art Students League of New York. From 1988-2020, he inherited the George Grosz Chair at The League where he was invited to teach his Life Drawing Class and a Painting Workshop. Following a definite tradition in art, like Brueghel, Daumier, Hogarth, and Grosz before him, Cenedella has devoted his art to chronicling the changing rituals and myths of contemporary American society.
In the last 35 years, Cenedella has amassed considerable international praise as well as inclusion in numerous public and private collections. His commissions include works for the famed Bacardi International and Absolut VODKA, a theater piece for actor Tony Randall, two murals of historical significance for Le Cirque 2000 Restaurants in New York and Mexico City, and most recently a visual jam to commemorate the history of the Grateful Dead.
In September 1985, Cenedella exhibited at the Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, a show sponsored by Mr. Jacques Chirac, then mayor of Paris. In 1988, he held a one-man show at Saatchi & Saatchi’s headquarters in New York, and in 1990, he was included in the prestigious Amnesty International Exhibition in SoHo, New York. In December 1994, he had a major retrospective at the Galerie Am Scheunenviertel in Berlin, Germany, which was a tribute to his former mentor and ran concurrently with the George Grosz Centennial Exhibition at the Berlin National Gallery. That same year, Cenedella’s concept of selling shares of stock in his painting 2001 - A Stock Odyssey was disclosed in a New York Times feature article. The idea prompted Leo Castelli, the SoHo gallery owner, who once compared the art boom of the 1980s to the rise of junk bonds, to call the experiment “a conceptual work of art.” Cenedella was also featured in Norbert Bunge’s award-winning documentary film George Grosz in America: Life’s Fine in the Labyrinth presented at the Berlin Film Festival in 1995.
From 1995 to 2000, Robert Cenedella exhibited and lectured around the United States. From March to May 2003, a full retrospective of the artist’s political works was sponsored by The Nation Institute. This exhibit, The Nation Hangs Cenedella, was held at the New York executive offices of The Nation magazine and covered subjects ranging from the Selma riots to the preemptive war on Iraq. It was the first exhibition given to an American artist by The Nation. On March 11, 2004, Cenedella unveiled “The Easel Painting Revival” at Le Cirque 2000. In the spring of 2005, Robert Cenedella had a solo exhibition at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, and conducted a lecture entitled: “WHAT isn’t ART.”
Cenedella’s art and life was the subject of a book, “The American Artist as Satirist,” by M. Kay Flavell. Cenedella was also the protagonist in Art Bastard, a historical documentary film on his life and work, which was released in the spring of 2016 by Concannon Productions, Inc. to critical acclaim. It was written and directed by Victor Kanefsky, produced by Chris T. Concannon, and edited by Jim MacDonald.
Robert Cenedella maintained a studio for 60 years in Tribeca and Midtown Manhattan; In August 2020, Cenedella moved from New York City to Maine with his wife, Liz, where he paints full-time. During the summer, Cenedella spends his time on his private island in Maine in a rustic cabin he personally built many years ago. He uses this time for reflection and inspiration. He is currently working on a coffee table book that revolves around his art and life story, which is due to be released in 2023, titled Robert Cenedella | 60 Years of American Art.
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ART BASTARD is the rousing tale of a rebel who never fit into today’s art world…
...yet has become one of its most provocative, rabble- rousing characters nevertheless. At once a portrait of the artist as a young troublemaker, a critical look at the modern art world and a quintessential New York story, ART BASTARD is as energetic, humorous and unapologetically honest as the uncompromising man at its center: Robert Cenedella.
A contemporary of Warhol who set himself up in the ’60s as the anti-Warhol, Cenedella has always been in search of authenticity – and from his story of battling family secrets, the money-fueled art establishment and his own demons, emerges a picture of creating a life on one’s own terms.