Robert Stivers (American, b.1953) was a born artist. Stivers began his career as a professional dancer until a debilitating back injury forced him into early retirement, and ultimately led him to his work as a photographer starting in 1988. Self-taught in the art of photography, Stivers is a master of printing and takes pride in his dark-room techniques. His images are usually printed on matte paper and are later hand-toned, and often incorporate manipulation. Creating striking and haunting images that lead one’s imagination to faraway places, Stivers’s work is unique in both appearance and content.

The progression of his photography can be seen in his earlier work, Series 5 (1994–1995), which contains images of both people and animals in various dramatic poses, which echo dancers’ poses. In his Listening to Cement (2000) series, Stivers photographed the heads of sculptures in a magnified manner, creating a sense of unease and tragedy. One of his most well-known group of images is Sestina (2003), which was published as a collection of photographs accompanied by the poetry of John Wood. Stivers often includes various objects, both animate and inanimate, in such a way that a sense of isolation and trauma is unavoidable. In all of these series, Stivers employs the use of vignettes, soft-focus, and motion blur, which give the illusion of fragmented memory that lessens with time, but never fully disappears.

Stivers has exhibited his work widely in both the United States and Europe, and is included in the collections of institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Getty Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Timeline

1953
Born Palo Alto, CA
1976
B.A., University of California Irvine, California
1981
M.A., New York University New York

Exhibitions

2003
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 2003:
Modernism San Francisco, CA
2002
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 2002:
Paris Photo, Paris, France
2001
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 2001:
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
Chiaroscuro Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Fahey/Klein, Los Angeles, CA
Myths and Tales, OMC Gallery for Contemporary Art, Dusseldorf, Germany
2000
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 2000:
Modernism San Francisco, CA
Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, MI
Exponera Malmo, Sweden
Throckmorton Fine Art Inc, NY
1999
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 1999:
The Presence of Absence, Turner Carroll Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
The Nude in Contemporary Art, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT
1998
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 1998:
Formication: A Pageant of Insects in Photographic Works, Laurence Miller Gallery, New York, NY
Turner Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1997
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 1997:
Peter Fetterman, Los Angeles, CAListening to Cement, Museum of New Mexico, Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
The State of the Question, Museum of New Mexico, Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY
1996
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 1996:
Creative Time, Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY
International Small Drawing, Turner Carroll Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Lesson No.17, Turner Carroll Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
ACTA International Associazione Culturale, Rome, Italy
1995
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 1995:
Large Bodies, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NY
Forms II, The Platinum Gallery, Invitational exhibition, Santa Fe, NM
1994
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 1994:
Eros & Identity, Stuart Levy Gallery, Invitational Exhibition, Stuart Levy Gallery, New York, NY
Animalia, Galerie Pons, Paris, France
1993
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 1993:
Throckmorton Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
1992
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 1992:
The Eliot Porter Benefit Exhibition, The New Mexico Council on Photography, Santa Fe, NM
1990
Robert Stivers Exhibitions in 1990:
Photography Center, First Biennial Juried Exhibition, Los Angeles, CA

Public Collections

Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
Santa Barbara Museum Of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
The Getty, Los Angeles, CA
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany
Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France
Brigham Young University, Provo, U
Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Literature

2000
Arena Editions Monographs, Listenting to Cement, R. Stivers
1997
Arena Editions, Monographs, Photographs, R. Stivers