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Robyn O'Neil

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Robyn O'Neil
Omaha, NE
EducationWerner Herzog's Rogue Film School, Texas A&M University-Commerce, University of Illinois at Chicago, King's College London
Known forDrawings
SpouseDamien Jurado[1]

Robyn O'Neil (born 1977) is an American artist known for her large-scale graphite on paper drawings.[2] She was also the host of the podcast "ME READING STUFF".[3] In 2023, she retired from the art world by posting a Kristy McNichol quote on her Instagram account.[4] She launched a new podcast, called ROBYN'S GATE, in early 2024.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Robyn O'Neil was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1977.[6] She lives and works in Los Angeles, California.[6] She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Texas A&M University-Commerce, continuing with studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, King's College London, and Werner Herzog's Rogue Film School, Los Angeles.[6]

Professional career and work[edit]

O’Neil is known for her detailed narrative drawings that often contain art historical references and center on a theme of existential bleakness and absurdity.[7][2] Traditionally, her monochromatic drawings have depicted "apocalyptic" scenes in which small human figures engage in acts of violence and trauma.[2] Art critic Christopher French has noted of the artist's practice, "Inventing realities rather than describing aspects of nature, O'Neil's dreamlike vistas offer a potent combination of incorporated graphite collage elements so as to inject foreground detail into ambiguous and otherwise largely unmarked middle distances."[8]

Despite the dark nature of her work, positive signs for the future of life and humanity abound.[9] Susan Harris wrote for Art in America that the "[s]oft, velvety passages of shading; painstaking and lovingly articulated rhythms of line; and the implication of the artist's own hand and arm in gestures both small and grand are palpable evocations of the will to make something out of nothing..."[9]

O'Neil has held solo museum exhibitions at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art,[10] Winston-Salem; the Des Moines Art Center;[11] the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth;[12][13][14][15][16][17] and the Contemporary Arts Museum,[18] Houston, which traveled to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University,[19] the Frye Art Museum,[20] Seattle.[6] She has participated in group exhibitions at institutions such as the Toledo Museum of Art;[21] the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum; The Kemper Museum, Kansas City; and, the Dallas Museum of Art.[6] Drawings by O'Neil were included in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2004 Whitney Biennial.[22][6] Her work is included in the public collections of the Menil Collection, Houston; Whitney Museum of American Art; Blanton Museum of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; John Michael Kohler Arts Center; The Kemper Museum; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Sheldon Museum of Art, Omaha; Des Moines Art Center; Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita; and, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.[6]

In 2010, O'Neil received a FRAMEWORKS Grant from the Irish Film Board for a film written and directed by her titled “WE, THE MASSES,” which was conceived at Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School.[23] O'Neil is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant,[24] an Artadia grant,[25] and the Huntington Prize.[26] She was featured alongside author John Green on PBS Digital Studios' The Art Assignment in 2014.[27] A recent monograph of her work, Robyn O’Neil: 20 Years of Drawings, was published by Archon Projects in 2017.[28]

In 2016, O'Neil directed a community collaborative drawing project with Harvester Arts in Wichita, KS. The project, The Great Kansas Sea, was inspired by the Permian Sea that covered Kansas 250 million years ago. The massive seascape was created by 700 drawings submitted by 500 participants.[29]


  1. ^ "Going Deep With Damien Jurado". Aquarium Drunkard. March 2, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "His Name Is Legion: Robyn O'Neil at Susan Inglett and Dominic McGill at Derek Eller". Observer. 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
  3. ^ "Me Reading Stuff". Podomatic. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  4. ^ "Robyn O'Neil on Instagram".
  5. ^ "Get more from Robyn's Gate on Patreon".
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Susan Inglett Gallery | Robyn O'Neil". www.inglettgallery.com. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  7. ^ Ollman, Leah (3 August 2018). "When the cover of a book becomes postcard art: Captivating messages in surprising packages". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
  8. ^ French, Christopher (November 2014). "Robyn O'Neil". ARTnews.
  9. ^ a b Harris, Susan (November 2007). "Robyn O'Neil at Clementine". Art in America.
  10. ^ "Robyn O'Neil: Something Vanished Over Paradise". SECCA – Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  11. ^ "Robyn O'neil". www.desmoinesartcenter.org. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  12. ^ "Robyn O'Neil: WE, THE MASSES". www.themodern.org. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  13. ^ Liberty, Megan N. (2020-02-01). "Literary Drawings Foreshadow an Apocalyptic Future". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  14. ^ "Robyn O'Neil's first major museum show exudes a sense of dread and wonder". Dallas News. 2019-11-20. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  15. ^ "Artist With a Cinematic Scope Takes on Cults, Hall Passes and Pajamas With Fort Worth Showcase Looming". PaperCity Magazine. 2019-10-03. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  16. ^ "At The Modern, Robyn O'Neil Draws the World Burning". D Magazine. 2019-10-22. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  17. ^ "'Telling Stories': Exhibit to feature contemporary drawings by three female artists". The Press. 2020-11-01. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  18. ^ "Perspectives 150: Robyn O'Neil". Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  19. ^ "Robyn O'Neil | Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art". museum.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  20. ^ "Robyn O'Neil". Frye Art Museum. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  21. ^ Sharp, Sarah Rose (2021-01-28). "Three Artists Illustrate the Expressive Potential of Drawing". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  22. ^ "Robyn O'Neil". whitney.org. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  23. ^ "Shutterbugs". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
  24. ^ "Robyn O'Neil". Joan Mitchell Foundation. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  25. ^ "Robyn O'Neil". Artadia. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  26. ^ "Artforum.com". www.artforum.com. 4 May 2009. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  27. ^ Psychological Landscape – Robyn O'Neil | Season 1 Episode 14 | The Art Assignment, retrieved 2019-07-10
  28. ^ "Dallas gallerist launches art book company with 2 must-have titles". CultureMap Dallas. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
  29. ^ "Robyn O'Neil | Past Artists". Harvester Arts. Retrieved 2021-03-06.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hugg, Hillery (November–December 2008). "'I can't stress enough how important it is to choose ...'". The Believer. 6 (9): 63–68.
  • French, Christopher. "Robyn O'Neil: Houston/Seattle/Ithaca." Art Papers 30, no. 4 (July/August 2006): 61.

External links[edit]