Roland Petersen Biography

Roland Petersen




Roland Conrad Petersen, painter, printmaker, and educator, was born 31 March 1926 in Endelave, Denmark to American parents. He attended the University of California Berkeley studying under Chiura Obata and Glen Wessels. Petersen earned his B.A. degree in 1949 and his M.A. degree in 1950. He then headed east to study at the Hans Hoffman School of Fine Arts in Provincetown, Massachusetts. After returning to California, he studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now the California College of the Arts) in Oakland between 1952 and 1954.

Peterson taught briefly at Washington State University before being appointed Professor of Art at the University of California at Davis in 1956. He taught at UC Davis for thirty-five years, retiring in 1992 as Professor Emeritus. During Peterson’s tenure he recruited Wayne Thiebaud, Manuel Neri and Robert Arneson to join the art department.

In the mid 1950s, Petersen’s art began to encompass a figurative approach rather than pure abstraction. While he did not entirely abandon the tenets of non-representational art, he would soon become known as a member of the Bay Area Figurative Movement, specifically the “Bridge Generation.”

Peterson won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1963 which allowed him to study in Paris at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17. In 1970, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowships which he used to return to Paris and the atelier. He also studied at the Islingtin Studio and the Print Workshop in London. 

Peterson is a member of the American Association of University Professors, the San Francisco Art Association, and the California Society of Printmakers. Peterson has had extensive sold exhibitions and has been included numerous in group exhibitions. In 2010, the retrospective Roland Peterson: 50 Years of Painting was featured at the Monterey Museum of Art.

The work of Roland Conrad Peterson is represented in the collections of the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California Davis; the Monterey Museum of Art, California; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; the San José Museum of Art, California; and the Hirshhorn Museum and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.