• Robert Donley
    Untitled (river with hills)
    2006
    graphite and acrylic on paper
    22 x 30 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Smog / Smoke / Steel
    2005
    oil on canvas
    32 x 56 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Icarus
    2004
    oil on canvas
    40 x 48 inches

  • Robert Donley
    St. Patrick’s Parade
    1983
    oil on canvas
    50 x 40 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Gay Paree
    1981
    oil on canvas
    48 x 66 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Great Tank Battle
    1981
    graphite and colored pencil on paper
    22 1/2 x 30 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Kremlin
    1981
    oil on canvas
    48 x 60 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Bombs Away
    1980
    graphite and colored pencil on paper
    22 1/2 x 30 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Dam Busters
    1980
    pencil and crayon on paper
    22 1/2 x 30 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Parachute Drop
    1979
    oil on canvas
    60 x 48 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Invasion of the Continent
    1978
    oil on canvas
    66 x 72 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Sodom and Gamorrah
    1973
    graphite and colored pencil on paper
    37 x 25 1/2 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Pagan Temple
    1973
    graphite and colored pencil on paper
    37 x 25 1/2 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Hide and Seek
    1973
    graphite and colored pencil on paper
    37 x 25 1/2 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Babel
    1972
    oil on canvas
    32 x 32 inches

  • Robert Donley
    LBJ
    1968
    oil on canvas
    46 x 31 1/2 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Warlord
    1967-68
    oil on canvas
    25 x 20 inches

  • Robert Donley
    The General Loves Us All
    1967
    graphite and pastel on paper
    22 x 30 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Red on Green
    1962
    oil on canvas
    24 x 25 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Red on Purple
    1962
    oil on canvas
    30 x 29 1/2 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Three
    1961
    monoprint on paper
    23 x 18 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Red Sun
    1961
    monoprint on paper
    21 x 16 inches

  • Robert Donley
    California Heat
    1959
    oil on canvas
    66 x 56 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Spring
    1959
    oil on paper
    44 x 28 1/2 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Within
    1959
    oil on paper
    44 x 28 1/2 inches

  • Robert Donley
    Quiet
    1959
    oil on paper
    44 x 28 1/2 inches

  • Photograph of Robert Donley

  • Photograph of Robert Donley (left)


BIO

b. 1934

Lives and works in Portland, Oregon.

Robert Donley was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and came to Chicago to receive a BFA in 1960 and an MFA in 1966 from the School of the Art Institute. For almost 40 years, beginning in 1967, Donley taught in the art department at DePaul University until moving to Portland, Oregon in 2008. His work is included in the collections of the National Museum of American Art, First National Bank in Chicago, DePaul University, and Mobil Oil Corporation in New York.

Known for his huge landscape paintings full of hundreds of tiny people, Robert Donley is one of Chicago’s great figurative expressionists, crafting a unique and wholly personal aesthetic since the middle 1960s. However, an entire arena of Donley’s work was never seen in the Windy City: his color-field paintings. Donley left Chicago for half a decade starting in 1959, moving to Los Angeles, where his work shifted from the abstract expressionist orientation that had been cultivated at the Art Institute of Chicago. Working in the same milieu out of which California’s post-ab-ex community arose, including such figures as Robert Irwin, Ed Moses, and Billy Al Bengston, Donley exhibited his large-scale abstractions at Paul Plummer Gallery and in exhibitions at the L.A. County Museum. Elegant and often highly geometrical, they absorb influences from Josef Albers to John McLaughlin, tempering a hard-edged tendency with brilliant painterly touches, all quite thinly painted in vivid colors. A series of exuberant works on paper from his first year in L.A. show the influence of the California light on the Midwesterner – like the paintings Miyoko Ito executed on the West Coast, Donley’s palette shifted to a soft, saturated, more organic, deeply warm set of dominant colors.

Donley returned to Chicago in 1964 to re-enter the School of the Art Institute, destined to build on a very different set of images, though his preoccupation with searing colors and the landscape format have persisted. By the 1970s Donley began to investigate more historical themes, painting his first landscapes populated by crowds of tiny figures. In 1980, at his first solo exhibition at Monique Knowlton Gallery in New York, he exhibited a series of these paintings depicting major wars of the twentieth century – scenes that are simultaneously apocalyptic and hilarious. Donley’s contemporary work continues his fascination with the city, with their God’s-eye views of all of the buildings, trees, animals, rivers, cars, and people, both anonymous and recognizable, that populate urban life.