Idaho artist Robert Neuman is displaying his work at the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho from April 25 thru August 10.
According to the art museum press release, Neuman has not had an exhibit in Idaho for more than 40 years.
“He wanted to do a show in his native state,” said Jessica Livesay, the administrative assistant at the museum. “He went around trying to find a place to do it and we jumped at it.”
Livesay said Neuman is probably the most famous artist the museum has displayed.
“He is a very well-known artist and a great person to have here,” Livesay said.
According to the press release, Neuman was born in 1926 in the Northern Idaho mining town Kellogg.
“My parents left me alone as a child. I worked in the store, and went to school, and played in the high school and all that sort of thing, but I still had this yearning to draw,” said Neuman, according to the exhibit brochure.
According to the brochure, the primary goal of the high school Neuman attended was to prepare students to work in the mines. Neuman’s mother spoke with the Serintendent to request Neuman be allowed to take more than one art course. He graduated and started college in 1944.
“He started at the University of Idaho,” Livesay said. “But then got drafted. He had to be in the army for a little while.”
According to the brochure, Neuman was never deployed overseas.
“A brief return to the University of Idaho after his service in the Army found him wanting to further his artistic passion … When he heard about art schools in San Francisco … he was interested immediately,” according to the brochure.
Livesay said Neuman changed schools and began attending the California College of Arts and Crafts.
“I think that’s where he kind of threw his professors,” Livesay said.
According to the press release, Neuman studied with contemporary artists such as Max Beckmann “I liked it immensely when I was [at college] because suddenly I was among a bunch of people who’d think the same way, who were really interested in art,” Neuman said according to the brochure.
Livesay said he got through college by applying for grants and scholarships. She said it was like he was getting paid to go to school and be an artist.
According to the brochure, Neuman studied commercial art and graphic design, and received a bachelor’s and master’s degree.
Livesay said Neuman taught art after graduating college.
“He was actually a professor of art for a long, long time,” Livesay said. “He taught at Harvard and Keene.”
According to the art museum brochure, Neuman was appointed the Chair of the Art Department at Keene State College in New Hampshire in 1972.
“He retired in the 1990s,” Livesay said. “He’s just been focusing on painting the past few years.”
Livesay said the way the paintings in the gallery are set in chronological order is a retrospective of Neuman’s career.
“A second generation abstract expressionist, Neuman explores regional, historical and metaphysical themes. Drawing inspiration from architecture, landscape and history, his passion for color, application, drawing and geometry unify a prolific body of work,” according to the press release.
Livesay said that her favorite work of Neuman’s is from a recent collection called the Lame Deer series.
“There is a Native American reservation in Montana called Lame Deer. [The paintings] are inspired by that,” Livesay said.
Neuman has been awarded various art awards, including the Fulbright Fellowship and Guggenheim Fellowship.
“Stop and look at all the different things he put in there,” Livesay said.
“He actually does a lot of detail work … really look and see all the different shapes and colors … I think it [is] just fun to see an Idaho artist who has made it big. I don’t think people realize that we do have an active art community.”
The art gallery offers a $2 student rate and free admission on the first Saturday of every month. It is located at 300 S. Capital Avenue in Idaho Falls.