I grew up in Washington DC. My father was a botanist so I was exposed to science early on. I studied physics and mathematics at The George Washington University (BS in Physics) and did graduate work at Princeton University. While at Princeton I decided that the questions of perception and cognition that I found challenging could be better answered by the arts than by the sciences. I left the physical sciences for painting and the East coast for the Midwest. I received a BA in Painting and Sculpture at the University of Minnesota and studied drawing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. In 1955 I moved to New York City, rented a cold water flat on 11th Street and became active in the Tenth Street scene of the late 1950s. I moved to SoHo in 1967 with my wife. We rented a loft on Mercer Street. It had living room for us and our two children and space for a painting studio. In 1994 we relocated to Westbeth where we still live.
Although most of my work is abstract, I was never an abstract expressionist; nor, indeed, have I ever identified with a specific artistic movement. My work was never minimal, but I always strive for clarity and simplicity. In most of my recent work I make simple horizontal and vertical divisions. Using various media -- charcoal, paint, pastels, graphite -- I fill the resultant rectangles with color that is often muted. The efficacy of the painting derives from the precision of the tonal - spatial relationships. The various degrees of texture and tone establish ambiguities between flatness and the appearance of depth, and stasis and the illusion of incipient motion. I aim to create an optical ambiguity between open and closed spaces and to engage the viewer in this delicate balance.
All images copyright Robert Ludwig
Bob behind the art
(photo by Judy Lawne)