100 Paintings: An Artist's Life in New York Art Institute of Chicago

Halfstack Highlights Ep. 17: Artist Robert Mango Shares His Journey in "100 Paintings: An Artist's Life in New York"

Thursday, August 28, 2014 Cora

Years ago, artist Robert Mango suffered a devastating event. He responded by “doing the unthinkable” he says: he cut up the paintings. This act of destruction became 30 pieces that flourish in his work today. From destruction comes creation. The event opens Robert Mango’s upcoming book, 100 Paintings: An Artist’s Life in New York.

While he’s called the “Renaissance Artist of Tribeca”, Mango is a Chicago native and attributes growing up in the Midwest to his success. “You cannot separate growing up from the strength of being a Midwesterner,” shares artist, sculptor, and gallery owner Robert Mango. “We don’t like that brand, but it is invaluable to sustaining art in New York.”

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Artist Robert Mango Another Midwestern trait that has helped his success is never putting himself or his work above the viewer. He likes to keep the audience involved in his work. Mango is also grateful to have called the Art Institute of Chicago his second home. He started classes at the recommendation of his father, going from high school art classes to the Art Institute, where the teachers were great artists themselves. He responded to the program’s discipline and high expectations. It was very demanding, exercises including drawing with the opposite hand, with one eye closed. The rules of drawing were enforced; if you didn’t learn or perform well, you didn’t proceed. Art started at a young age for Mango. He started by copying the French Impressionists. Picasso’s work “mentally exploded” for him. At 15 or 16, Mango discovered Duchamp, whose work was also a doorway to philosophy and the great thinkers. Reading Freud and Nietzsche, he was on a quest to understand man.

The Strong Jester Mango began as a sculptor and grew into a painter. He combines materials and paints to create 3D art. Mango wanted to put together a book on his paintings. He started writing it when his son, Joseph, suggested he write at least the bio section. Once he started he started writing 6-8 major works. One of the biggest challenges Mango faced was how to incorporate a manuscript with 200 images of his work, including sketches and photographs? Eventually, his editor created an outline involving great suspense and he adapted the story to the outline.

No Room for Doubt What emerged was a storybook and a picture book. Readers get to experience what his mind was thinking as he creates, privy to details only the artist knows. They will see New York evolve over 3 decades through the eyes of an artist who has fallen in love with the city and finds great inspiration from it. Mango’s work has been collected in the private and corporate spheres, but also has captured the eyes of some Hollywood heavyweights. Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, and Bob Dylan own his work. 

While he has cultivated these and other VIP friendships by respecting their privacy, he does share some encounters. The book starts in Chicago and goes up to events of 9/11, which Mango was very involved in. For more information about Robert Mango, his work, and the upcoming book, visit http://robertmango.com

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