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Oral history interview with Robert Blackburn, 1970 December 4

Blackburn, Robert Hamilton, 1920-2003



Collection Information

Size: 52 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded 2 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 28 min.

Summary: An interview of Robert Blackburn conducted 1970 December 4, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art. Blackburn speaks of his early life in Jamaica and New York; the influences of his youth including school, gangs, religion, art, music, and culture; the Harlem Community Art Center; studying with Charles Alston; the difficulties suffered by Black artists trying to gain recognition in a white-dominated art world; attending the Art Students League and studying under Vaclav Vytlacil and Will Barnet; his work with children; his film work at the Harmon Foundation; financial problems; the Printmaking Workshop; attending New York University's School of Visual Arts and the Cooper Union School; blacks in the arts; and the influence of music on his paintings. He recalls Jacob Lawrence, Will Barnet, Vaclav Vytlacil, Wallace Harrison, Tatyana Grosman, Grace Hartigan, Sam Francis, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Blackburn (1920-) was a printmaker from New York, New York.


This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

Language Note

English .

How to Use This Collection

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Robert Blackburn, 1970 December 4. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.