• BEST IN STATE—Senior Courtney Schoen Lewis was named Best PR Student in Utah. Story

You lookin’ at me? Robert De Niro’s dad was a great painter

February 23rd, 2014 Posted in Arts and Life

By Katie Swain

PARK CITY—Twenty years after the death of Robert De Niro Sr., HBO’s Sheila Nevins and Robert De Niro Jr.’s producing partner Jane Rosenthal came together with directors Geeta Gandbhir and Perri Peltz to honor the abstract expressionist painter with the film “Remembering the Artist Robert De Niro Sr.”

asfdPremiering at Sundance 2014, the film’s screening was scheduled in conjunction with an exhibit at the Julie Nester Gallery in Park City, where 14 of De Niro Sr.’s paintings were featured.

The documentary features the famous son, Robert De Niro, Jr., reading extended passages from his father’s personal journals and talking about life with his dad. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, director Peltz said De Niro originally wanted to make the film just for his family, but when he realized how the story was “not just of Robert De Niro’s Sr.’s work—which is amazing—but the entire art world of the time,” they chose to make it into a film for the public.

“I feel like it’s my duty and responsibility to document his life for no other reason than the family,” De Niro said in Park City, “but also to propel his legacy, to keep it going with all the art that he did and who he was.”

Born in 1922, the elder De Niro began painting in college and soon began to rise in the art world, exhibiting in galleries all over the United States, including the Charles Egan Gallery in New York and Peggy Guggenheim’s The Art of This Century gallery. While he exhibited among artists like Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, De Niro Sr. never reached the same level of fame and recognition. However De Niro lauded his father’s work.

“For me, I mean he was a great painter,” De Niro said. “Even though I’m his son, I can see he’s a great painter. You can see by his work and his dedication. It’s not—excuse my French—it’s no bullshit. It’s real.”

The documentary was not only an important film for the art world; it also focused on the emotional story of De Niro Sr. leaving his wife when De Niro was 3 years old. De Niro said he didn’t understand until much later the reason his father left was because he had realized his homosexuality during a time when same-sex attraction was much less accepted. Through narration by De Niro the documentary explains De Niro Sr.’s struggle with self-acceptance and attempts to reconcile with God.

After the premiere, De Niro emotionally declared to the audience he really made the film for his father. Though hard at times, they had a good relationship up until De Niro Sr.’s death in 1993.

“Remembering the Artist Robert De Niro Sr.” is set to be released on HBO this summer.


Tags: ,

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.