Robert Cottingham was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935 and received his BFA degree from Pratt Institute, also in Brooklyn. Later, he studied art at Arts Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and began his career as an advertising art director in Los Angeles. Cottingham’s first easel paintings were of scenes outside his office window in Los Angeles.
Although he is known for his photo-realistic depictions of signs, storefront marquees and railroad boxcars and letter forms, Cottingham does not consider himself a photorealist artists. His imagery, while derived from photographs he takes, expands on the photographic image, it does not replicate it. Most recently, Cottingham has explored images derived from cameras, typewriters and machine parts he calls “components”.
Works by Robert Cottingham are in the collections of every important museum in America and have been included in exhibitions of American art, realism, hyper-realism, photorealism, railroad imagery and printmaking at museums worldwide.
A retrospective of Robert Cottingham’s print work was organized and exhibited by the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC in 1998.
Forum Gallery introduced Robert Cottingham’s landmark An American Alphabet at his first exhibition with the gallery in 1996 and has represented the artist since.