"I am inspired by the idea that my work is not just placed in the landscape, but that it creates a landscape and, in turn, the landscape creates the sculpture."
Richard Pitts grew up in a traveling military family, finally settling in Asbury Park, NJ. While enrolled in Newark College of Fine and Industrial Arts in 1959-60, he met his first Fine Art mentor, Reuben Kadish. As a childhood friend of Phillip Guston and best friend of Jackson Pollock, Kadish, a sculptor, introduced Richard to the expanded qualities and spiritual depth of painters like Giotto and Titian. Filled with inspiration, Richard moved to New York City in 1960. He then attended Pratt Institute, studying with painter Ernie Briggs.
In 1968, Richard rented a storefront on First Street and the Bowery and was one of the founding members of the First St. Gallery - which still exists today, though it is now in Chelsea.
After exhibiting there in 1970, Richard joined the faculty at the Kansas City Art Institute.
In 1974 he taught in the Fine Art Department at the NYC Fashion Institute of Technology, helping develop a four-year major in Fine Arts. During his tenure, he was awarded the New York State Chancellors Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1990. Richard was the master printer and head of Printmaking in the Fine Arts Department. His multi-media work is featured in Modern Printmaking by author and artist Sylvie Covey.
1974 - 2000
Richard exhibited figure based painting compositions that slowly transitioned from the two dimensional, to low relief, to free standing sculpture. This was documented in over 20 solo exhibitions in NY galleries such as David Findley Jr, and University Galleries like Hobart William Smith College in
He exhibited at 55 Mercer Gallery in New York City, an artist run gallery. Richard became President of 55 Mercer Gallery and nurtured it to full membership.
Winner of Yonkers Water Front Development program, Richard's sculpture was installed along the Hudson River promenade. He has since exhibited in several Yonkers competitions, showing 11 different large-scale sculptures.
His introduction to public art gave way to becoming a liaison for artists looking to exhibit their work, utilizing Urban Studio Unbound, a not-for-profit organization he started with former graduates of the Fashion Institute of Technology. USU helped numerous artists secure exhibition space and grants.
Richard Pitts, A Fresh Look at Bacchus and Venus by Judd Tully, YC 1993.
Richard Pitts - Kandy Colored Tangerine Flake Baby by Judd Tully YC, 2009.
Richard Pitts - Recent Work -Sculpture and Painting, featuring The Space Outside, an essay by Jill Connor, NY.
Richard has been exhibiting outdoor sculptures in public venues for the last 10 years. Installing over 30 sculptures in 20 US cities. Currently he is working on a series of small sculptures in wood and a second series of small works in steel, approximately 10" x 20" . These works explore the spirit and quality of the material they were made of and map out future directions that develop into new and fresh ideas. These are not models or maquettes, they are finished sculptures in their own right, and at times they can be the inspiration for larger works.
He is also working on large-scale 10' abstract paintings. These are vigorously painted, some with are very vibrant colors and others only black and white tonal values. Richard continues to work in diverse mediums, concentrating on the dialog between painting and sculpture as it exposes new directions.
The larger scale is an important aspect of his work since it has a physical presence that creates and projects a kind of space.