Gallery Exhibition: Robert Mueller - Selected Works From the Monmouth University Permanent Collection
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September 2 – October 17, 2014
DiMattio Gallery – Second Floor
Inspired by mathematical models, literary sources, and his own social consciousness, Robert Emmett Mueller, artist, engineer, inventor, author, musician, puppet maker, and general wizard, is on a never-ending search for visual equivalents to his ideas.
“Such is his mind, and such is his personality that I know whatever he is doing artistically is a search for form, a search for beauty, and a search for the meaning of things”, said Bernarda Bryson Shahn, and artist and Mueller’s longtime neighbor in Roosevelt, New Jersey.
Mueller’s creations are largely varied. They include woodcuts, like a recent triptych entitled: Ravages of Pre-emptive War; The Devil Stalks Baghdad; America’s Bitter Presence, whose theme is the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Many of Mueller’s pieces can be found worldwide and are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and The Pushkin Museum in Moscow, the New Jersey State Museum, the Rutgers University Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum of London, and other museums worldwide. He is also a painter who describes his personal style as “Mathematico-abstract.” Mueller has written two books, The Science of Art, published in 1967, and Inventivity, published in 1963.
Mueller’s own “inventivity” took a circuitous route to art. He grew up in St. Louis, where his father was a baker and his mother was a seamstress and milliner. After serving in the Navy, he was sent to a college preparation program in Asbury Park and later graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
After moving to New York City to study philosophy at New York University, Mueller began to meet artists from Roosevelt, which was begun as a planned workers’ community but had evolved into an artists’ colony that included, among others, Ben Shahn, and Gregorio Prestopino, both who influenced Mueller’s work. Mueller moved to Roosevelt with his wife Diana Lobl, an attorney, in the 1950’s. They now have two grown children, Rachel and Erik.
Mueller said that through Roosevelt he became “conscious of human inhumanity, moral and social problems, the depths of degradation, and the heights of elegance over which human nature ranges”, and he believes that artists should use their work to react to crises in society, to encourage protest, and to fight for economic, political, and human well-being.
In this exhibition, all of the above are skillfully communicated.
Image Caption: Classic Figure, 1996, Woodcut, 23 1/2" x 17 1/2"
Joan and Robert Rechnitz Hall,
Art and Design,