Robert Cenedella

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Robert Cenedella
Born(1940-05-24)24 May 1940
Milford, Massachusetts
EducationArt Students League of New York
Known forPainter
Notable work
"Santa Claus" (1988), "Le Cirque — The First Generation" (1998), "Balcony" (1985), "Southern Dogs" (1965)

Robert Cenedella is an American artist. He became well known for several of his paintings, including commissions by Bacardi, Heinz, Absolut Vodka and Le Cirque.[1]

Early life[edit]

Robert Cenedella was born in Milford, Massachusetts in 1940. He attended the High School of Music and Art in New York, but was expelled for writing a satirical letter about the atom bomb drill to the school’s principal.[2] Cenedella continued to receive his formal education at The Art Students League of New York, where he studied under the late German satirical painter George Grosz. In 1988, he took over the George Grosz Chair at The Art Students League and presently teaches three courses.[3]


Following a tradition in art established by the likes of Pieter Brueghel, George Bellows, Marcel Duchamp, Honore Daumier, William Hogarth and George Grosz before him, Robert Cenedella's works are known for their pictorial satire, humor and fantasy. His art chronicles the changing rituals and myths of society in contemporary America. In the last 20 years, Cenedella has amassed considerable international praise as well as inclusion in numerous public and private collections. His commissions include works for the Bacardi Int’l,[4] Absolut Vodka,[5] a theater piece for Tony Randall,[6] and two paintings for the Le Cirque 2000 Restaurant in New York and Mexico City.[7] Cenedella’s “Le Cirque — The First Generation” still hangs at the restaurant’s entryway and is featured in the book “A Table at Le Cirque”.[8]

In September 1985, Cenedella exhibited at the Château de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, a show sponsored by then-mayor Jacques Chirac. In 1988, he painted “Santa Claus” for a one-man show at Saatchi & Saatchi ad agency’s headquarters in New York.[9] The painting garnered controversy even before the show opened and was taken down by the agency.[10] In December 1997, “Santa Claus” was displayed for the second time in public in a front window of The Art Students League of New York. Despite the complaints from New York’s Catholic League, the school refused to take down the painting and kept it on display for the holiday season.[11]

In 1990, Cenedella was included in the Amnesty International Exhibition in Soho, New York. In December 1994, he had a retrospective exhibit at the Galerie Am Scheunenviertel in Berlin, Germany, which was a tribute to his former mentor and ran concurrently with the George Grosz Centennial Exhibition at the Berlin National Gallery.[12] That same year, Cenedella’s concept of selling shares of stock of his painting "2001 — A Stock Odyssey" was disclosed in a New York Times feature article.[13][14]

From 1995 to 2000, Cenedella exhibited and lectured around the United States. From March to May 2003, a retrospective of the artist’s political works was sponsored by The Nation Institute[15] and held at the New York executive offices of The Nation magazine.[16] This covered subjects ranging from the Selma riots to the preemptive war on Iraq, and was the first exhibition given to an American artist by The Nation. On March 11, 2004, Cenedella unveiled “The Easel Painting Revival” at Le Cirque 2000.[17] In the spring of 2005, Robert Cenedella held a solo exhibition at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, and conducted a lecture entitled: “WHAT isn’t ART.”[18]

Cenedella's life and works are the subject of the 2015 documentary film Art Bastard. The film was submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the 2016 Oscar race and was in consideration for the Documentary Feature category for the 89th Academy Awards.[19] It has garnered multiple awards in the festival circuit, such as Winner of Best Documentary at the Manchester Film Festival and Winner of Best Documentary and Best Director — Documentary at the Idllywild International Festival of Cinema. The film showcases "the mischievous tale of a rebel who never fit into today's art world, yet has become one of its most provocative, rabble-rousing characters nevertheless... [It's] as energetic, humorous and unapologetically honest as the uncompromising man at its center: Robert Cenedella." To quote Cenedella, "You can bastardize everything else in your life, but if you compromise with your art, why be an artist?" [20]

In 2015, Cenedella was commissioned to create a painting titled Fín del Mundo, a tryptich which "captures the chaos surrounding Donald Trump's march to the White House."[21] It was displayed in time for the United States presidential election on November 2, 2016 at Central Park Fine Arts.[22] In 2017, Fín del Mundo along with Cenedella's newest work, Pence on Earth, "which depicts Mike Pence dressed as the Pope, with a giant Trump standing over him in a uniform," [23] were featured in Huffington Post.

Selected list of works[edit]

  • 1962 "Gallery Opening"
  • 1965 "Southern Dogs"
  • 1968 "Second Avenue"
  • 1981 "Santa Fe Rider"
  • 1984 "Rape of the IRT"
  • 1985 "Balcony"
  • 1986 "2001 - A Stock Odyssey"
  • 1986 "The Giants"
  • 1987 "Soho Lives"
  • 1989 "Santa Claus"
  • 1998 "Le Cirque — The First Generation"
  • 2010 "Impeachment Off the Table"


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  19. ^ McNary, Dave (2016-10-28). "Oscars: Academy Receives 145 Feature Documentary Submissions". Variety. Retrieved 2017-09-28.
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  23. ^ Hay, R. Couri (2017-07-31). "Controversial Artist Robert Cenedella turns heads with latest works "Fin Del Mundo" and "Pence on Earth"". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-09-28.