Robert Hudson (1938-2024) was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and grew up in Richland, Washington. He attended the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco (then the San Francisco Art Institute), where he received a BFA in 1957 and a MFA in 1963. Working in the Bay Area in the 1960s, he became associated with the movements referred to as funk and assemblage sculpture. However, as critic Kenneth Baker pointed out, “Any artist as prolific as Hudson comes under suspicion of producing by rote, and of caring too little about physical niceties. The pleasant surprise is that you can bear down as hard as you please on the sensuous details of Hudson’s art and you won’t find any dead spots. The ‘funk’ label slapped on Hudson’s art years ago suggests a carelessness that is nowhere to be seen in the work itself.”

Hudson was best known for his complex, witty, polychrome welded steel sculptures, but his distinguished body of work also includes paintings, ceramics, and constructions that incorporate found objects. He made his first etchings at Crown Point Press in 1986, sometimes using lace to mark the soft grounds of his plates. Hudson put together his works without plans and used a variety of images—sometimes fantastic and symbolic, sometimes disciplined and geometric. The work is thoughtful despite its spontaneity. In the words of critic Peter Schjeldahl, “There is a kind of dreamlike abstract logic to these works, a blend of nonchalance and inevitability that can be best understood, I believe, in terms of a radical coming to grips with the medium.”

Robert Hudson was awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts (1972), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1976), and a Sculpture Commission Grant by the General Services Administration (1979). His art is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 1993 the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art mounted a retrospective of Hudson’s work, and in 2005–06, the Sonoma County Museum in California featured a survey of his work since 1977.

-Rachel Lyon, Crown Point Press


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