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An archetypal Bay-Area artist, Robert Hudson has been a primary force in the West Coast assemblage movement, and is well known for his polychrome steel sculpture. Born in Salt Lake City in 1938 and raised in Richland, Washington alongside artists William Allan and William Wiley, Hudson moved to San Francisco in the late 1950s where he received his bachelor’s and master’s of fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Working in a wildly diverse array of mediums, Hudson has produced a large body of paintings, drawings, ceramic pieces and his famous steel sculptures in a career that continues to evolve over five decades of creativity. According to David S. Rubin of the San Francisco Art Institute, “Hudson demonstrates an adventurous spirit as he continues to challenge barriers that have traditionally existed between mediums.” His willingness to experiment with and explore new materials and techniques has allowed him to forge an authentically original style that draws on a range of influences, without subsuming his identity to any of them.

No matter the medium, the works of Robert Hudson are characterized by a riotously visual approach, as the artist carefully juxtaposes fabricated and found objects into pieces that burst with his signature wit. The careful geometry of his forms is often painted over in trompe-l’oeil designs and decorative patterns, as he skillfully manipulates the viewer’s perceptual experiences. Suzanne Foley described this phenomenon in her 1973 catalogue essay for Robert Hudson/ Richard Shaw: Work in Porcelain, writing that “the illusionistic surface decoration creates a lively tension between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional sculptural form, giving this work its greatest distinction and excitement.”

Hudson’s formally and spatially complex sculptures highlight his position as the progenitor of the current tendency towards sampled, hybrid art pulled together from disparate sources. A playful approach to his complex and multi-layered works allows his output to maintain a certain levity even as the pieces prompt viewers to question their experiences of art. Although his sculptures are often densely composed and seem to have been thrown together haphazardly, Peter Frank of Art Ltd. notes that “there is so much method to Hudson’s madness that we come to understand that the method is the madness, a compulsion toward artifying mundane objects while leaving them anchored in the everyday.”

Robert Hudson has exhibited since 1961, and his work is included in The National Gallery of Art, the de Young Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Stedelijk Museum.

He has taught art at several schools in California, including the San Francisco Art Institute, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Davis, and the California College of Arts and Crafts.


1963     M.F.A. San Francisco Art Institute
1961     B.F.A. San Francisco Art Institute

Museum Collections

Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
The Anderson Collection at Stanford University, Stanford, California
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Atlantic Richfield, Los Angeles, California
AT&T Corporation
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California
Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
The Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, California
Palm Springs Desert Museum, Inc., California
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri
San Francisco Arts Commission
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2013     Robert Hudson: Masks, Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2010     Robert Hudson - Sculpture and Drawing, Patricia Sweetow Gallery,
                     San Francisco, California
2007     Robert Hudson, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Found Objects, Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2005     Robert Hudson: The Sonoma County Years, 1977-2005,
                     Sonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa, California
            Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2004     B. Sakato Garo, Sacramento, California
2003     Robert Hudson: Recent Sculpture, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2000     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1998     Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York
1996     Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
1995     Struve Fine Arts, Chicago, Illinois
1994     John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California
1991     John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California
1990     Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, California
1989     Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, California
            Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica; Frumkin Adams Gallery, New York
1987     Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1986     Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York
1985     Robert Hudson: A Survey, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art traveled to
                     Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, The Art Museum at
                     Florida International University, Miami, Laguna Beach Museum of Art,
                     California (‘85-’86)
1984     Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York
            Richard Eugene Fuller Art Gallery, Beaver College, Glenside, Pennsylvania
1983     Morgan Gallery, Shawnee Mission, Kansas; Richard L. Nelson Gallery & the
                     Fine Arts Collection, University of California, Davis
1982     Hansen Fuller Gallery, San Francisco, California
1981     Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York
1979     Hansen Fuller Gallery, San Francisco; Miami Dade Community College, Miami,
1978     Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York
1977     Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
            Hansen Fuller Gallery, San Francisco, California
            Portland Center for the Visual Arts, Portland, Oregon
            Two California Artists: Robert Hudson and Roy De Forest, Institute of
                     Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts      
1976     Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York
1975     Hansen Fuller Gallery, San Francisco, California
1973     Hansen Fuller Gallery, San Francisco; Robert Hudson/Richard Shaw:
            Work in Porcelain
, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, California
            Robert Hudson/Richard Shaw: Work in Porcelain, E.G. Gallery,
                     Kansas City, Missouri
1972     The Star Show, University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, California;
                     Alllan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1971     Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York
1970     Michael Walls Gallery, San Francisco, California
1968     Allan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1967     Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1965     Robert Hudson Sculpture: 1965 Nealie Sullivan Award Exhibition,
            Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, California
            Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York
1964     Lanyon Gallery, Palo Alto, California
1962     Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, California
1961     Batman Gallery, San Francisco; Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California