Robert G. Hamilton Biography

Robert G. Hamilton




Painter and printmaker Robert G. Hamilton was born in Seneca Falls, New York in 1917. He took classes at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1935 to 1939 before moving to New York, enrolling in courses at the Art Student's League. After serving in the US Air Force as a fighter-bomber from 1943 to 1945 he returned once again to Rhode Island, where he earned his BFA in 1947. He would then go on to teach at his Alma Mater from 1948 to 1981.

Hamilton began showing extensively in the early 1950s and found inspiration in his time in the war and in jazz, his secondary passion. Much like his contemporaries he was drawn to the possibilities in abstract expressionism to access the improvisational aspect of jazz; however, despite these commonalities, his connection to the popular genre ended there, and in the early 1960s he began retreating from the larger art world. In 1960 Hamilton built two studios on his property in Port Clyde, Maine, which he called Horse Point Museum, hosting annual exhibitions of his work and showing there exclusively beween 1969 and 1986.

Later in his career Hamilton began developing macular degeneration and eventually lost his sight in one eye entirely, while the other was blurred. Rather than be deterred, he changed his approach, working on smaller canvases with more intense colors and embracing the new way he perceived light and shadow. Of his condition he said "I can see all around but I can't see in the middle. It's a blur in the middle. If you fall off a cliff, you may as well try to fly." (Maine Masters Project series)

Hamilton died in Port Clyde in 2004.

Hamilton's work can be found in the collections of M.I.T., Brown Univerity; DeCordova Museum; Brandeis; University of Massachusetts; Tougaloo College; University of Tennessee at Knoxville; Commerce Trust of Kansas City; Farnsworth Museum; and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.

2011: Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport, Maine (posthumous)

2001: Judith Leighton, Blue Hill, Maine (solo)

2000: National Academy of Design

1999: Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island (solo); Farnsworth Museum, Rockland, Maine (solo); Virginia Lynch Gallery, Rhode Island (solo)

1997: Icon Gallery, Brunswick, Maine (solo); Virginia Lynch Gallery, Rhode Island (solo)

1995: Icon Gallery, Brunswick, Maine (solo); Maine Coast Artist

1994: Virginia Lynch Gallery, Rhode Island (solo); Frick Gallery, Belfast, Maine (solo)

1993, 92, 91, 90: Icon Gallery

1986: Virginia Lynch Gallery, Rhode Island (solo)

1985: Boston Arts Festival Winners Exhibits 1985

1982: Lily Iselin Gallery, Providence, Rhode Island (solo)

1969, 68: Alpha Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1967: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1966: Alpha Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1964: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1964, 63: DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts (solo)

1963: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1962, 61: Kanegis Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1961: DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts (solo)

1960: Cornell University (solo); University of Illinois National (solo); Kanegis Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1959: University of Illinois National (solo); Carnegie International (solo); Kanegis Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1958: Cambridge Art Association (solo); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1957: Kanegis Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (solo)

1956: First, Second and Third Prize at Boston Art Festival, 1958, 1959 (solo)

You can learn more about Hamilton's life at Vision and Art Project.