Robert W Richards: CHAPTERS IN AN IMPROBABLE LIFE
CHAPTERS IN AN IMPROBABLE LIFE
No redemption, no rehab, no regrets, no closets, no apologies, just one gay mans dizzy ride drawing his way through the worlds of fashion, beautiful people, naked men,
movie stars, porn stars, poets and jazz singers starting in the fifties and continuing to this moment.
Born in a small factory town in Maine where dreaming was not encouraged ROBERT W RICHARDS soon learned to live a secretive, solitary life. Fascinated and pre-occupied with movies and magazines he immersed himself in drawing an imaginary world populated by beautiful men and women - Garbo, Dietrich, Marilyn, Gary Cooper, Brando filled him with inspiration and desire. Neither the lack of encouragement nor the difficult circumstances under which he lived dimmed his dreams.
At age 16, through much subterfuge he managed to wangle a scholarship to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Too young to appreciate the strict academic discipline of the classical curriculum and thrilled to be let loose in a big city he left school and started doing free-lance fashion drawings for the chic womens shops along Newbury Street, Bostons Madison Avenue. From the day he started drawing professionally, drawing has been his only source of income.
In the late sixties he moved to New York and took a deep plunge into the big time World of Fashion having been given the opportunity to draw the runway collections in Paris, Rome, Milan, Los Angeles and New York for three American newspapers. In addition there were commissions for beauty illustrations for LOreal, Charles of the Ritz, Clairol and Revlon. There was never a quiet, introspective moment and after several years of travel and galas and clothes, clothes, CLOTHES, Richards decided he wanted to draw people, preferably minus the clothes and especially men. Gay publishers welcomed him. He drew for Mandate, Topman, and Torso while continuing working for mainstream clients doing Broadway and Cabaret posters, CD packaging and celebrity and society portraits.
Through the years long lasting, intense friendships developed with the singers hed loved all his life - Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Anita ODay, Peggy Lee. Not only were they (and still are) unending sources of pleasure but also a very influential part of his art.
In the last decade Richards has had several one-man shows in galleries and museums including New Yorks Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Envoy and Feature Galleries and ANTEBELLUM in Los Angeles. At Leslie-Lohman he curated a retrospective of erotic icon Peter Berlins self-portraits, for the Museum of the Society of Illustrators an overview of 20th Century Fashion Illustration and the record breaking Sroke show at Leslie- Lohman.
He tries to produce something every day and will not be deterred from doing so.
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