Museum of Contemporary Religious Art

St. Louis University, St. Louis MO



Robert Farber: A Retrospective, 1985-1995

November 18, 2000 - January 28, 2001


New York artist Robert Farber turned to art in his mid-30s and pursued it until his death in 1995 at the age of 47. In a decade of art making, he brought to his work his own experiences coming to terms with his homosexuality, his sense of isolation, and ultimately his struggle with AIDS. His work has been shown in such distinguished institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University and the USC Fisher Gallery at the University of Southern California.

This exhibition includes some of Farber's early, highly autobiographical works. After learning in 1989 that he was HIV positive, he turned to AIDS as the dominant subject of his art. This approach culminated in his most important work, the Western Blot series (1991-94), large constructions that combine painting, drawing, texts and architectural elements. These works move beyond individual experience and take on a global perspective that links present reality with a Europe ravaged by the bubonic plague centuries ago. (left: Altar #1, 1990, mixed media, fold leaf, black and white photograph on wood, 24 x 24 inches, Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, Saint Louis University, St. Louis Missouri)

It is a vision by turns painful, moving, compassionate and courageous -- and always thoughtful. "Farber's work has less finality, and more hope in my view representing not death at all, but the struggle of art to frame life while it can still be lived," writes Michael Camille. At a time when many Americans seem apathetic and willfully ignorant about AIDS' impact throughout the world, Farber's work insists that we take notice, and suggests a life-affirming way of addressing the crisis.

Read more about the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art at St. Louis University in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/27/11

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