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Robert Rahway Zakanitch

Zakanitch with Painting.
Photo © Robert Zakanitch

Robert Rahway Zakanitch

Artist Spotlight



Simply, art should be about beauty, according to Robert Rahway Zakanitch. His nearly boundless accomplishments and extensive critical praise are almost as impressive as the paintings at the heart of his acclaim—lavish works celebrating ornamentation simply for the sake of it. “Still, after all these years, I am finding new visual material in decoration. The more I learn, the more I become involved in it. It is clearer and clearer that this continues to be a place for me full of discovery,” he says.

A New Jersey native (his middle name is adopted from the town where he was raised), Zakanitch was born in 1935 and began exhibiting in New York City in the 1960s. Since then, he appears to have done it all: He is represented by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York City and has exhibited extensively, in both solo and group shows, throughout the United States and across Europe. His work is part of major public collections. He has taught, lectured, taken commissions. His art has been analyzed in books, articles, exhibition catalogues, and on film. He even helped found the Pattern and Decoration movement in 1970s New York.
Rococo Revisited
Rococo Revisited, 2008

Delphinium, 2012
Delphinium (detail), 2012

Zakanitch is perhaps best known recently for his massive gouache works, eight feet high and painted in a medium that’s rarely used at such a scale. And now Pomegranate has reproduced a selection of these gorgeous works in a mailable size: Bird Songs and Rococo Revisited in a folio of notecards and Chicken Iris as a birthday card. These swirling floral motifs, frequently featuring animals, are often described as fanciful or exuberant; his elevation of beauty above all else has been called daring.

More can be found in Pomegranate’s 2016 Robert Rahway Zakanitch calendar, which highlights a mixture of decorative floral artworks, including additional paintings from A Garden of Ordinary Miracles: An Alphabet Book (Universe, 2012). Four paintings from that publication have also been reproduced in a boxed notecard set, allowing anyone to bring home or send one of Zakanitch’s enticingly joyful images.


Morning Glory
Morning Glory, 2012


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