Donald C. Robertson

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Donald “Don” Calvin Robertson (American, 1925-1984) Painter, printmaker and educator primarily known for his Op Art acrylic paintings and prints. Donald Robertson was born June 25, 1925 in Springfield, IL to Harold Aaron Robertson (c.1898-) and Hazel L. (née Montgomery) Robertson (c.1901-) and he had a brother, Harold Robertson, Jr. (c.1920-). He obtained his Bachelor of Fine Art degree from John Herron Art Institute in 1952 and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1955. He studied under the well-known visual artist and educator, Joseph Albers (German-born American, 1888-1976), the father of optical art. Much of his work consists of geometric shapes with progressive beams of color that radiate from a center, which gives a phosphorescent-like effect and makes the shapes almost seem to pulsate or move inside each other.

From 1959-1960, Robertson was Artist-in-Residence at Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta in Granada, Spain and served for many years as chairman of the Department of Art at the University at Buffalo where he taught painting and printmaking. His work has been exhibited throughout the country and New York State, including at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, the Everson Museum in Syracuse, and Roberson Center for Arts and Sciences in Binghamton. His work was highly regarded in Scandinavia where he had several successful exhibitions in the 1970s. Like Virginia Cuthbert and Seymour Drumlevitch, Robertson was represented by Nina Freudenheim Gallery and his artwork can be found in the permanent collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY and the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, NY. Robertson married Marjorie Lucille (née Quade) Robertson (-2004) and children included Marc D. Robertson, and watercolor painter, Linda Robertson (Laird) Magavern (1954-2018). Donald Robertson died on July 15, 1984 at the age of fifty-nine in Illinois.

Awards & Honors: Painting Prize, Professional Art Exhibit, Springfield, IL, 1950; Scholarship, John Herron Art Institute, 1951; Honorable mention, Award in Oil, Indiana Artists Exhibit, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, IN, 1951; The Gene Lacy Award, Indiana Artists Exhibit, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, IN, 1952; Board of Directors' Prize, Indiana Artists Exhibit, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, IN, 1953-1954; Graduate Summer Fellowship for Research, University of Illinois, 1955; The Tartan Award, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, 1964; The Gannett Award, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY, 1965; The M&T Bank Award $200 for his “Datum VIII” and “Sensum VI”, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, 1967; and the Buffalo Evening News Award, 1971.

(Sources: With permission from the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, and exhibition catalog, PDF, "Works by Living American Artists: Western New York", May 9-June 27, 1976, Burchfield Center SUC, Buffalo, NY,;, "U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007: Donald Calvin Robertson; Death Certificate # 357209314"; Memorial Art Gallery Collection, University of Rochester, NY, The Charles Rand Penney Collection of the Memorial Art Gallery,;, online obituary, “Marjorie L. Robertson”; buffalonews, online obituary, “Linda R. Magavern, 63, watercolor painter, active volunteer”, By Dale Anderson, September 1, 2018;, “Donald Calvin Roberston: Robertson Family Tree”;, “Harold Aaron Robertson: Robertson Family Tree”;, “1940 United States Federal Census: 1940’s; Harold Robertson”.)