Robert Rahway Zakanitch
To Robert Rahway Zakanitch, life is full of ordinary miracles and the boundless beauty of humanity, which he expresses on paper and canvas in what essayist David Pagel calls “a wild collision between freewheeling bohemian abandon and settled-down domestic sociability.”
Zakanitch, who was trained in commercial art and has a background in advertising, began to paint seriously amid the 1960s culture of artistic intellectualism, when beauty was out of fashion and Modern Art seemed bent on excluding rather than including its audience. After exploring Formalism and Abstract Expressionism, Zakanitch began painting what he described as “gestural things and patterns that were anathema to Modernism. Things that I didn’t quite understand but felt good to me.” He wanted to get back to the human rather than pursue the abstract. He wanted to reclaim beauty.
By the 1970s Zakanitch had reached critical acclaim as a fine artist and as a founder of the Pattern and Decoration movement. More recently, Zakanitch uses line, form, color, composition, and scale—especially scale—to create accessible, visually rich paintings. He wields his pencils and brushes with undeniable authority but generously invites viewers into his artistic process by allowing visible erasures, drips of paint, glimpses of gridwork and support materials, and bits of hand-lettering.
The first monograph on the artist’s work, Robert Rahway Zakanitch presents more than one hundred of his paintings from 1962 to 2014 and provides critical consideration in essays by David Pagel and John DeFazio. For over fifty years Zakanitch has shown his artwork in solo and group exhibitions around the world, all the while reflecting on the nature of painting. His work is in many private and public collections, among them the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Musées de Strasbourg, France. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1995.
About the AUTHORS
David Pagel is a professor of art theory and history at Claremont Graduate University in California and an adjunct curator at the Parrish Art Museum in Watermill, New York. He also regularly writes about art for the Los Angeles Times. An avid cyclist, he has been a five-time winner of the California Triple Crown.
John DeFazio is an architect, writer, critic, and adjunct professor at Drexel University, where he teaches architectural design and art-and-architectural theory from the sixteenth century through the present. Before joining the faculty at Drexel University in 1990, DeFazio taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and Spring Garden College, Philadelphia. He lives in New York City, where he maintains his architectural and urban planning practice.