Keyword: surrealism

Study for The Sea thumb

Study for The Sea

This figure in a landscape is drawn with cartoon-like simplicity. The waves of the woman’s hair echo the repeating patterns of the sea. Strong shadows anchor the figure to the bottom of the frame. The figure looks small and ordinary, her face hidden

Knife Eye Window thumb

Knife Eye Window

A page of drawings possibly inspired by the shocking opening scene of the surrealist film, Un Chien Andalou, in which a woman’s eye is cut in half with a razor. The madman who wields the razor is played by the

Dream: Diggers thumb

Dream: Diggers

Robert returned to this image repeatedly. He first showed construction machines glimpsed outside a hospital room window, with the window appearing between a patient on a bed and a visitor in a chair. As he developed the image, Robert dispensed with

Fog thumb


The clarity and legibility of the letters spelling “fog” diminish and seem to disappear in the surrounding mist. This a good example of what British designer Alan Fletcher calls a “Tom Swiftie,” using typography “to demonstrate what it states.” (The

Word Picture with Umbrella thumb

Word Picture with Umbrella

This landscape with words spelled out in a picture frame is a playful bit of fun that recalls similar experiments by Belgian surrealist René Magritte. The man with an umbrella seen from a low angle makes it seem as though

Flame thumb


Popular expressions, such as “my old flame,” or “to hold a torch for someone,” often connect to Robert’s paintings. In this case, Robert refers to an elaborate metaphor from Elizabeth Smart’s novel: “Can I see the light of a match while

Flowering Tree thumb

Flowering Tree

In the midst of winter, in a drab urban backyard, a tree bursts dramatically into flower. Of course the flowers aren’t real and don’t belong to the tree at all. They’re part of a printed pattern on a bedspread hanging from

Nail Garden (detail) thumb

Nail Garden (detail)

Pictures are usually hung on walls using small nails discreetly hidden from sight. Robert makes these hidden elements visible by gluing them to the front surface of his image. He also reaches into art history to cite the use of wallpaper

Studies for Umbrella thumb

Studies for Umbrella

A man, seen from behind, holds an umbrella over a woman’s head. The background is an abstract pattern of biomorphic watery shapes. Robert makes a separate study for this background, a composition of floating black and white forms, which turn a rainy

Accident thumb


The influence of Andy Warhol is a strong point of departure. Both Warhol and Robert use photos from public sources. In his “Death and Disaster” series (1962-64), featuring car crashes, race riots, and deaths from suicide, electric chairs and atom