Robert Andrew Parker
“If anything, macular degeneration has made my drawing less precise. I mean, I don’t know that I could so deftly draw something. I look at old sketchbooks and think, ‘could I still do that line?’ Sometimes I have to say no.”Robert Andrew Parker in a 2015 oral history with The Vision & Art Project
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Robert Andrew Parker moved frequently as a child, spending time in New Mexico, Seattle, Indiana, and Chicago. He joined the Army Air Corps near the end of World War II. After being discharged in 1948, he studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Scowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Atelier 17 in New York City.
In his long career as an artist and illustrator, Parker has exhibited his work widely. He’s also illustrated over forty children’s books and received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a fellowship to the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles, a Caldecott Honor and an American Library Association Notable Book award.
His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Indianapolis Museum of Art, among others. He has taught at the Gerit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons School of Design, Syracuse University, and the School of Visual Arts, New York.
Parker’s post-macular artwork
Robert Andrew Parker experienced the first signs of macular degeneration in 2000. As he related in an oral history with the Vision & Art Project, he had to stop doing such things as reading, ice fishing, and drawing from the model. But he can still make art more or less as he always has.
Day after day in his Connecticut studio, which is brimful of artifacts, he summons onto paper and canvas the subjects that have long held his fascination and to which he ceaselessly returns. There is only ever a faint suggestion that anything has changed for him—a less definite line, perhaps, a hazier horizon, a more ethereal flight of a bomber.
V&AP Resources Related to This Artist
A studio Visit with a Master Artist and Illustrator
After seeing Parker's retrospective exhibition at The Century Association in New York, we sought him out in person and visited his studio.Read More
From the Archives: At 90 Years, a Life of Talent, Luck, Music, & Play
On the occasion of Parker's 95th birthday, a celebration of his work from our archives.Read More
“A Is for Artist:” A Short Film about Robert Andrew Parker
In this short video profile, Parker reflects upon his career, inspirations, and how vision loss has affected his work (scarcely at all).Read More