Books and Catalogues

Judith Laister (curator), Die Kunst der Linie: Möglichkeiten des Graphischen, Museum of Upper Austria, Linz, 1999, catalog, p326 (translation).

“…the American artist Robert Schatz is not concerned with the depiction of recognizable subject matter or theme. Instead, his primary interest is experimentation with a process rooted in spontaneity and feeling, seemingly chaotic and arbitrary... While paralleling the attempt of Surrealism to surrender artistic control and introduce accident as an essential creative factor, this work also manages to remind us of the puritan aspects of early Minimalism. For all that, the fine shifting lines also belies the influence of Asian philosophy, which has served Robert Schatz as a source of inspiration for his creative work.”

Articles and Reviews

Jonathan Frederick Walz (Curator of American Art, The Columbus Museum, Georgia), "Robert Schatz", exhibition essay, Stirner Modern Gallery, Easton, 2023.

"The seemingly straightforward paintings in this exhibition belie the depths that underlie their conception and execution. Take for example the piece, A Nocturne. Its palette is limited to four colors: basic black, salmon pink, saffron yellow, ghostly lavender; its facture consists of layers of wispy whiplash that settle in the bottom half of the composition. In two words, the work’s title telescopes several centuries of the cultural production known as “the nocturne,” including compositions by Frédéric Chopin, Erik Satie, and Donald Martino, as well as images by Rembrandt van Rijn, Caspar David Friedrich, and James McNeill Whistler. John Ruskin, the Victorian proponent of the faithful representation of precise details, famously criticized the latter artist’s Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (1875), accusing Whistler of “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.” In his defense, Whistler pointed out that, while the picture may have “only” taken a relatively short amount of time to finish, nevertheless, the image resulted from a lifetime of experience. Similarly, the paintings displayed here distill Robert Schatz’s long-term, wide-ranging interests, from Zen Buddhism and depth psychology to everyday environmentalism and art history. If, in Carl Jung’s words, “the Shadow is the seat of creativity,” Schatz’s recent output reminds the viewer of the beauty that results from holding ostensible opposites—unity and variety, simplicity and complexity, rationality and intuition, light and dark—in a creative tension."


Jonathan Frederick Walz (Curator of American Art, Sheldon Museum of Art), "A New Line of Thinking: Recent Sculpture by Robert Schatz", exhibition essay, Sheldon Museum, Lincoln, 2015.

"Known for his lyrical drawings informed by physical movement, artist Robert Schatz has, in his latest body of work, begun to explore the third dimension. Using humble materials, such as twine and found pieces of wood, Schatz crafts intriguing objects that index his decision-making process. Beginning with no preconceived idea for form, the artist manipulates his materials intuitively, allowing their natural inclinations to manifest. In this way the complex, self-contained 'lines' he creates could be interpreted as abstract narratives...dictated by the stuff at hand rather than imposed by the artist. A range of analogous structures exist within the sphere of human cultural production: Melanesian navigation charts, the so-called coconut fiber string "spirit catchers" of Danger Island, and quipu, that ancient record-keeping system of loops and links form the Andes. The artist readily admits to a childhood fascination with scale-model ship building (including the intricate rigging) - and certainly the masculine-engendered activity of knot-tying pertains here too. These constructions seem to convey - through length and 'event' - not only the accounts of various messages, but also a miniaturized reproduction of the path the messenger took - in time and space - to arrive at delivery. These mysterious forms, which trade equally in contours and negative spaces, fit comfortably within the ongoing dialogue of modern and post-modern sculpture. Any artist engaging with suspended forms in motion must contend with the long shadow of Alexander Calder. The artist's utilization of simple, everyday items acknowledges post-minimalist Richard Tuttle and his seemingly innocuous production. Like the mature oeuvre of Fred Sandback, with acrylic yarn stretched in and around the viewer's space, Schatz's pieces employ three-dimensional line to heighten bodily experience. Philosophically they also correlate to David Smith's abstract expressionist sculpture, welded together according to chance and the 'inner necessity' of the forms, an unplanned irrational arrangement facilitated by the artist. Capitalizing on the similarity of his forms to the snarl of string in the back of the odd kitchen drawer, the artist aims to 'entangle' the viewer, evoking curiosity and mental attempts to 'unravel' the literal - and figurative - conundrum at hand. Given the artist's interest in Eastern thought, the very present 'thing'-ness of specific objects of contemplation, like the scholar stones of Chinese tradition, also seems applicable here."


Thomas Sokolowski (director, Zimmerli Museum), "Sprezzatura: The Art of Robert Schatz", exhibition essay, Nicholas Davies Gallery, New York, October 1996.

“Somehow I was not surprised when I first saw one of Robert Schatz’s preliminary sketches drawn on a yellow post-it note stuck to the spine of a Jasper Johns catalogue. It hovered there and seemed perfectly fitting and succinct and, most of all, proper. What better an admixture for an artist creating lush skeins of finely measured and almost mathematically paced staves of pure feeling. I cannot view his work without thinking of those quirky proofreader’s marks, perfectly clear if you have the key, and almost absurdly foreign if you do not. These paintings and drawings almost presuppose what the viewer is thinking even before the thought has occurred. Maybe they are magic, and then again maybe they are just well thought-out metaphors. Isn’t that what good art is supposed to do anyway? A well-executed piece doesn’t show off, it just is. Sixteenth century art theorists had a term for this: sprezzatura, the art of making the difficult appear effortless. That just about sums up Robert Schatz.”


Nicholas Davies (director), Nicholas Davies Gallery, press release, Geometries of Chance, 1998.

"In spite of some surface kinship, Schatz's work is not informed with the loose, self-conscious expressionism of early American abstraction, as it prefers to seduce not with bangs and braggadocio but with a somber, quiet, rather diffident presence, like a Zen rock garden. Indeed Schatz acknowledges the sympathetic influence of Asian philosophies in his work."


Nina Zivancevic (poet), "Letter From Paris", NY Arts, April 1999, p79.

“The delicate and dreamy drawing of Robert Schatz…attests to the futility of our attempts at taming the wild and unpredictable.”


Sally Lelong (director, The Phatory LLC), press release, Paesaggio, New York, March 2007.

“Schatz’s imagery shares kinship with the arabesque lettering of graffiti artists who scrawl their names across the urban landscape. However, unlike those sprayed-painted arrangements, Schatz’s trails of squiggled lines gather into orgiastic panoramas rather than exaggerated tags. And, while these two styles of painting share similarities, Schatz’s images are not intended to disrupt one’s line of sight. Rather, the interactions between his free-flowing lines and the faintly visible ones of the music paper underneath suggests an orderly conversation between opposing dynamics....As one begins to feel animated by these cartooned landscapes, one also feels a desire to linger a while and take in everything these scenic wonderlands offer.”


Brent Burket, review excerpt, Paesaggio, The Phatory LLC, New York, NY Arts, March 2007, p70.

“The paintings are done on the temple of order that is staff paper. By making the choice to apply paint – his own form of notation – on top of the staff paper, Schatz seems to be making the point that there is another order at work here. It’s not as logical, as mathematical, but more natural and intuitive.”