Skip to main content

Robert Wiegand papers and video art, 1953-1994

Biographical Note

Robert Nelson Wiegand (1934-1994) was a painter and video artist who worked and lived in New York City. Robert Wiegand's interest in art extended well beyond the point of creation, and throughout his life he worked not only as painter, but also as a teacher, advocate, and documentarian of the arts in New York City.
Born in Long Island in 1934, Wiegand attended the State University of New York, College of Buffalo and received a degree in arts education. He returned to New York City and became active in the artist community in SoHo. He was one of the co-founders of the SoHo Artists Association, an artists' organization formed to advocate for legalizing artist loft live/work spaces in lower Manhattan in the 1960s.
Wiegand married his first wife Ingrid in 1964, and they collaborated on many creative endeavors. They adopted two children from India, Indira and Pratap (also known as Peter), and separated in 1990. He married painter Lynn Braswell in 1991.
As a painter, Wiegand's work was highly geometric and influenced by the Abstract Expressionist movement. He exhibited paintings in one-man shows in New York City at the Phoenix Gallery and at the Levitan Gallery. In 1968, Wiegand participated in the first "10 Downtown" exhibition, where artists exhibited in their own studios in a move to overcome exclusive gallery representation practices. After painting a few exterior house murals, Wiegand co-founded
City Walls
, a New York City mural project that was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Through this project he became responsible for a handful of the murals in lower Manhattan. In 1968, Wiegand collaborated with Lloyed Kreutzer, a Bell Labs physicist specializing in lasers, to create the installation work
as part of Experiments In Art and Technology's (EAT) 1968 competition bringing together artists and engineers. It was then shown at Wiegand's studio in 1969. Wiegand was also one of the co-founders of
, an artist run non-profit organization that continues to program weekly artist panel discussions in Soho, NY. It was co-founded in 1974 by Wiegand, Lori Antonacci, and Douglas Sheer, with Irving Sandler, Cynthia Navaretta, Bruce Barton and Corinne Robins joining the first board of directors in early 1975.
Wiegand became interested in video in the 1960s after using it as a documentary tool in the successful effort to legalize loft living in lower Manhattan. He then began creating video artworks, many of which were collaborations with his wife Ingrid. They received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1977 to produce a documentary on middle class life in India called
Snapshots of an Indian Day
. It was shown at The Kitchen and Anthology Film Archives before being acquired by the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY. In 1980, with the help of his students from the Global Village Intensive Video Workshop, Wiegand directed, shot, and edited the Brooklyn Opera Society's production
Madama Butterfly
at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and Tea House, and the production aired on WNYC-TV 13 as part of its
Other Voices: New York
From 1971 to 1980, Wiegand ran his own commercial video company, Wiegand Video, where he produced corporate and industry training films. From 1980 to 1987, he worked as a project manager and producer for Square Twelve Productions, continuing to produce commercial work. His clients included the American Society for Mechanical Engineers and International Business Machines.
Wiegand also taught art and video production at the Staten Island Academy from 1961-1971, studio and television production at the New School for Social Research from 1980 to 1984, and field production at the Lehman College City University of NY. He also taught in the New York City C.E.T.A. program in media training and was a visiting media production instructor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Towards the end of his life, Wiegand changed careers and became a social worker. Robert Wiegand died in New York City in 1994, just after his 60th birthday.