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Experimentalist: The Art of Robert W. Fichter

Winged Flying Dog (1979)

In the late 1970s, Robert Whitten Fichter (American, b. 1939) wrote in his notebook, “Sometimes I am in a mo zay ic mood, and sometimes I’m in a single frame mood[…] Artists don’t have to stay in one singular mood all the time. I am consistent about nothing.” For Fichter, these creative “mood swings” have compelled him to explore his ideas across a variety of mediums including painting, photography, and printmaking. Applying experimental techniques to figurative imagery, his art expresses both formal considerations and a deep concern for the state of the world and humankind’s place in it.

This online exhibit accompanies an exhibition presented at UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery from August 28–December 18, 2019. The exhibition represents the first retrospective of the artist’s career in over thirty years. Created between 1962 and 2006, the works reproduced here are drawn entirely from the Robert W. Fichter Archive at UMBC. The selection highlights the artist’s experimental approach to examining the human condition. Employing shifting moods and mediums as well as wit, humor, and satire, Fichter delivers trenchant critiques of war, nuclear proliferation, and environmental disaster. Firmly rooting his expressive compositions in a strong sense of place—the surreal landscapes of his native Florida—he presents a singular vision of humanity on the brink.

The exhibition Experimentalist: The Art of Robert Fichter was curated by Tom Beck, Curator Emeritus. The presentation at the Library Gallery was organized by Beth Saunders, Curator and Head of Special Collections.

Online exhibit by Grace Ferguson

Texts by Tom Beck and Beth Saunders with Grace Ferguson

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