“I can’t tell you how incredible it was to visit his studio, and to see an artist I can relate to…his success outside establishments that I too disagree with. I know many artists…but I have never been in the studio of one who spoke directly to me. … It reaffirmed my confidence within myself as an artist… I loved this studio visit.” M.P.
Activist Artists and Radical Art, a course developed by Professor Joyce C. Polistena, held class at a uniquely suited site, the studio of painter Robert Cenedella –A.K.A. The Art Bastard. Now known to many thousands due to the recent award winning film of the same name, Bob Cenedella is forthcoming, challenging and completely engaging. The film has been lauded in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, The Nation, The Examiner.com, and The NY Post among others. Bob Cenedella’s rebellious approach to the art world skewers the art market, the US government, American politics, and the cultural avant-garde of New York City. He passionately rejects the monetary behemoth that has become Art. Cenedella’s message to art students is all about maintaining integrity before pursuing fame: “you can bastardize everything else in your life, but if you compromise with your art, why be an artist?”
Cenedella spoke to the Pratt students about his long career as a radical artist and the excitement of having a film made of one’s life and career. In the 1960s-70s Cenedella’s figurative work countered both the abstract expressionist and Pop Art movements. He met with Andy Warhol and other lionized stars of the Avant garde art world but he cut his own path. Cenedella made clear that the artist he most admired was his revered teacher, the German expressionist painter, George Grosz. Additionally influenced by those politically engaged American artists of the 1920s -1930s “anarchist period”.
During the visit, Cenedella was charming and generous with his time and talents; he explained his painting techniques, his materials and his figurative style as well as those paintings which became notorious for their political truth-telling content. In what was especially inviting for the class, Bob Cenedella unveiled his latest work: a very large triptych painting (a private commission which cannot be shown here until it reaches its L.A. patron). It can be said with certainty that the painting is a tremendously important work; politically gripping and beautifully painted. Later, the students said that they found the visit “a privilege,” and the artist “inspiring,” and thought provoking — reminding them to “always question everything.”
(L- R) Polistena, Bob Cenedella, Mira Park, Tia Chinai, Devica Sen, Emily Marcus, Madison Polidoro, Lulu Johnson, Lori Quijano, Fiona Colon.
Susan Luss, Bob Cenedella, Mira Park, Tia Chinai, Devica Sen, Emily Marcus, Madison Polidoro (rear).