“Romolo Roberti: An American Original,” curated by Ken Probst. Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago, IL. Through Jan. 26.
Romolo Roberti, a prominent Chicago artist in the 30’s and 40’s , stashed over 250 paintings in a Mississippi lumber yard. Nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the paintings were recently brought to the AHA Gallery’s attention by the artist’s granddaughter, Kathy McDaniel. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Kevin Nance reports that the paintings, which depict old Chicago in a pastiche of realist regional styles and sold poorly during the artist’s lifetime, are worth a look. “Although Roberti achieved a certain renown here during the Depression years, he never quite caught on in Chicago. He was something of a loner, often at odds with art dealers (who apparently found his phantasmagorical paintings inspired by Dante’s Inferno unsalable) and his ‘nosy’ neighbors at Tree Studios, who spied on him through skylights when he painted nude models. For years he worked as an itinerant decorator, periodically saving up enough money to work at painting full-time, only to hit the road again. Eventually he moved to Mississippi to be near his family and lived in a trailer park, where he continued to paint until a few years before his death. Relative to his fairly substantial output, he sold very few paintings in his lifetime. He’s selling now. As of last week, the Adams gallery had sold about nine paintings at prices ranging from $7,500 to $55,000.” Read more.