Robert Munford was a pop art pioneer and a founding member of the Grupo Ibiza 59, the influential art group formed in Ibiza, Spain. Munford, born in 1925 in Worcester, Massachusetts, studied art at Ohio State University, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Art Students League of New York.
He settled for a time in Provincetown, Massachusetts before moving to Spain in 1956 and ultimately to the island of Ibiza in 1957. Munford remained in Spain until 1966.
The years of 1957 to 1966 marked a period of experimentation for the artist. He arrived in Spain focused primarily on abstract landscapes but progressed to a distinctive pop art style. Munford exhibited his pop art widely in Europe from Paris to Germany, Switzerland and Spain.
John Ashbery and Aldo Pellegrini were among a number of art critics drawn to Munford’s work. In New Tendencies of Art (1966), Pellegrini listed Munford with Larry Rivers, R.J. Kitaj, Peter Saul, and Harold Stevenson as stylistic contemporaries. Ashbery found Munford’s art “strange and beautiful.”
In 1959, Munford founded the Grupo Ibiza 59 with fellow artists Erwin Bechtold, Erwin Broner, Hans Laabs, Heinz Trökes, Bertil Sjöberg, Egon Neubauer, Katja Meirowsky, and Antonio Ruiz. Grupo Ibiza 59, through their exhibitions and gatherings, brought international attention to the thriving art scene in Ibiza, Spain.
Robert Munford, Valda Shore, Josep Maria Subirách (far left), and Antonio Ruiz (far right); Santa Eulalia, Ibiza, Spain, ca. 1959.
In 1966, Munford returned to the United States. Unable to recreate his success in Europe, Munford turned to art education in 1971 when he took a position at the Long Island University, Southampton. He became a distinguished professor of art and taught for two decades until his death in 1991.
Munford’s works can be found in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.), the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Parrish Art Museum (Long Island, N.Y.), the Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg (Germany), and private collections in the U.S. and abroad.
Gouache; 33 x 24 cm; ca. 1958-1959.
Gouache, Mixed Media; 30 x 39 cm; 1965.
Gouache, Mixed Media; 16.3 x 22 cm; ca. 1964.
Gouache, Mixed Media; 19 x 24 cm; ca. 1964.
Mixed Media; 16 x 32.5 cm; ca. 1963-1954.
Pencil Drawing; 34 x 19.5 cm; ca. 1964-1965.
Lithograph; 55.88 x 38.1 cm; 1962.
Munford’s selected works, 1957-1966, are on exhibit until November 18th. Worcester Academy Performance Center. 14 Marion Avenue, Worcester.
* Images copyrighted by the Estate of Robert Munford and made available by the Robert Munford Catalogue Raisonné Project. www.robertmunfordcatalogue.org.