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Robert W. Fichter


Curt Richter, Robert Fichter, 1980. Platinum Print. © Curt Richter.



Robert Whitten Fichter

American, born Fort Meyers, FL 1939

Born in Fort Meyers, Florida in 1939, Robert Whitten Fichter spent his early childhood in Sarasota, where the ruins of circus impresario John Ringling’s unfinished Ritz-Carlton Hotel left an indelible impression on him; the artist frequently explored the clash between decaying civilization and fecund nature in his work. Fichter first took up the camera as yearbook photographer at his high school, and was also inspired to pursue art by his older sister, who trained as an abstract expressionist painter. While attending the University of Florida at Gainesville (1959-63), Fichter studied Anthropology before switching majors to Fine Arts. He studied printmaking with Ken Kerslake and photography with Jerry Uelsmann, who encouraged him to pursue an MFA under photographer Henry Holmes Smith at the University of Indiana (1963-66).

Upon graduating, Fichter worked with Nathan Lyons as an Assistant Curator at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, where he had a solo exhibition in 1968. In 1982, curator Robert Sobieszek organized a major retrospective of his work at the George Eastman Museum that also traveled to the Fine Arts Gallery, Florida State University, Tallahassee; Frederick White Gallery, UCLA; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College (Chicago); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Art Museum, University of New Mexico; and the Brooklyn Museum.

Fichter joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles in 1968. In 1972, he returned to Florida to take a position at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where he remained until his retirement in 2006. He also held visiting positions at UCLA (1976) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1977).

Fichter has exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada (1970), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1974), School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1974), Kunsthaus Zurich (1977), Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies (1981), Whitney Biennial (1981), University of South Florida Art Galleries (1984), Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (1986), and the Gallery of Art, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls (1990).

Fichter’s work is included in the collections of the Center for Creative Photography, George Eastman Museum, High Museum, International Center of Photography, Los Angeles County Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Photography, National Gallery of Art, and Norton Simon Museum, among others.

In 2006, the artist donated his archive of drawings, prints, photographs, paintings, preparatory materials, and manuscripts to the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.


UMBC Digital Collections: Robert W. Fichter & Robert Freidus Italian Memorial Sculpture Photograph Collection

Graphicstudio: Robert Fichter

FSU Department of Art: Robert Fichter

Google Arts & Culture: FSU Museum of Fine Arts "Faculty Legacy" Exhibit

National Gallery of Art: Robert Fichter

Visual Studies Workshop: "Fichter, Robert" Query

Hammer Museum: "Robert Fichter" Search Query


Bloom, John. Photography at Bay: Interviews, Essays, and Reviews. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993, pp. 336–340.

Coke, Van Deren. “60’s Continuum,” Image 15: 1 (March 1972), pp. 3-6.

Fichter, Robert. Florida Photogenesis: the Work of Creative and Experimental Photographers in Florida. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, School of Visual Arts & Dance, 2000.

Fichter, Robert, and Robert A Sobieszek. Robert Fichter: Photography and Other Questions. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1983.

Fine, Ruth, and Mary Lee Corlett. Graphicstudio: Contemporary Art from the Collaborative Workshop at the University of South Florida. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1991, pp. 161–167.

Grundberg, Andy, and Kathleen McCarthy Gauss. Photography and Art: Interactions Since 1946. Fort Lauderdale: Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art; Los Angeles, Calif.: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New York: Abbeville Press, 1987, pp. 112–113, 180.

Gumpert, Lynn and the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York, N.Y.). The End of the World: Contemporary Visions of the Apocalypse. New York: The Museum, 1983, pp. 11, 34, 37, 48, 62.

Hirsch, Robert. Transformational Imagemaking: Handmade Photography Since 1960. Hoboken, N.J.: Taylor and Francis, 2014.

Katzman, Louise and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Photography in California, 1945–1980. New York: Hudson Hills Press in association with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1984, pp. 51–52.

Robert W. Fichter