Robert Breer Biography


Robert Breer is both an artist and an animator. His career spans more than fifty years. He lived in Paris from 1949 until 1959 and it was there that he started painting. Form Phases was one of his first films. He used an old Bolex camera for his earlier films, which were simple stop motion studies based on his abstract paintings.

Breer's father was an engineer. He built a 3-D camera to film family vacations . Perhaps Robert followed in his father's footsteps because he too studied at Stanford. He however eventually changed his focus toward hand crafted art. He began to experiment with flip books. These animations were done on 4" by 6" cards. These cards have become the standard for all of Breer's work even today.

Breer's early work was influenced by various European modern art movements of the early 20th century. Breer was associated with the Denise Rene Gallery . This gallery specializes in geometric art. Here he also saw abstract films of such pioneers as Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling, Walter Ruttman and Ferand Leger. Breer acknowledges his respect for this purist, "cubist" cinema. These use geometric shapes moving in time and space.

In Paris he helped organize and exhibited in a show called Le Movement. This was in 1955. This paved the way for new cinema aesthetics. In the late 1950's Breer returned to the US. In America people were interested in films by Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Peter Kubelka and Marie Menken. They were creating a new visionary movement. Pop Art emerged in the 1960's and Breer befriended Claes Oldenburg and others.

He began to work for the television show , David Brinkley's Journal. For the he filmed pieces on ast shows in Europe. He also made his debut documentary of sculptor Jean Tinguely in 1961 called Homage to Tinguely. This documentary was screened at The Museum Of Modern Art. It reflected his interest in mechanical forms and the fine art of moving sculpture.

He was influenced by the new performance art that was popular in Europe and New York . He worked with different artists that were exposed to these trends. Breer then developed a line technique related to the free form work of Swiss painter Paul Klee. In his films he started using the dynamics of drawing and line to capture the feeling of humor and motion. He still relied on the simple techniques of pencils and the 4" by 6" cards. Two of his films A Man With his Dog Out for Air and Inner and Outer Space displayed his techniques. He rarely uses conventional storytelling techniques. His films have a sense of quick movements.

In 1970's Breer worked for the Childrens Television Workshop doing animation for the show The Electric Company.

I plan to show the film TZ . This film is a portrait of his new living space when he lived near the Tappan Zee Bridge . Breer often uses domestic imagery in his work. He incorperated objects surrounding the artist to fantasy sequences using Polaroid photographs reworked with erasable markers. Today, Breer continues to explore animated forms. He teaches animation at Cooper Union in New York City. He still relies on the history of cinema and the early gadgets.

--Beth Maccio

Robert Breer