Robert Venosa was an American artist residing in Boulder, Colorado, USA. He studied with what are termed the New Masters. His artworks reside in collections around the world.
Venosa began his career as a commercial artist, designing album covers for Columbia Records as an art director in the 1960s. In all, Venosa has designed more than 50 album covers for a number of labels, including CBS/Columbia, Blue Note, and Mercury, among others. During this time, he discovered the work of fantastic realist painters Mati Klarwein and Ernst Fuchs. Venosa was so inspired by the two artists that he began using their work on album covers, such as Santana’s Abraxas, which he designed in collaboration with Klarwein. Of his apprenticeship with Klarwein, Venosa says, “What a time (Autumn, 1970) that turned out to be! Not only did I get started in proper technique, but at various times I had Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Jackie Kennedy and the good doctor Tim Leary himself peering over my shoulder to see what I was up to.” Venosa then later went on to study under Klarwein’s own teacher, Ernst Fuchs in Vienna.
In the early 1970s he moved to Cadaques, and met and befriended Salvador Dalí. He later introduced H. R. Giger to Dalí. It was here that he met his partner of 30 years, fellow artist, Martina Hoffmann.
Regarding Dalí wrote in his book Noospheres, “Contrary to expectations, Dali was quite accessible. All you had to do was get him on the telephone – which was easy enough as he was listed in the local directory – and answer his first question which was always, ‘Are you beautiful?’ If your reply was a confident ‘Yes!’ you would be invited to show up at his Port Lligat home at 7:00 p.m. to sit beside his phallic-shaped swimming pool and drink pink champagne with aristocrats, vagabonds and some of the most interesting people you’d ever hope to meet. This was Dali’s ever-changing nightly court, which, of course, always included entertainment: Gypsy flamenco dances and singers; a group of lithe and lovely ballerinas, who, at Dali’s suggestion, would disrobe and dance in the nude; jugglers, magicians and ranting prophets; and always the itinerant troubadour inspired to peak performance by the presence of the great Dali.
Afterward, an elite group of ten or twelve would be selected to accompany the Maestro to his large table at El Barroco restaurant, where the fiesta would continue deep into the night over racks of lamb, Crema Catalana and an endless fountain of Perelada wine and champagne. These were memorable evenings indeed.”
Owing to growing success and recognition of his artwork through extensive exposure in OMNI magazine and on record album covers, he moved back to the U.S. in 1982, initially to Sausalito, California. He found that there was wide difference in mentality regarding artists between Europe and America. So it took him some time to adjust.
“The admiration and aristocratic respect given the artist in Europe is stripped clean upon arrival in the U.S. as these architects of culture are transmogrified into novelty items and entertaining curiosities”, wrote Venosa.
His neighbor in California, was philosopher Alan Watts, who is best known for bringing Zen Buddhism to the United States. Watts introduced Venosa to a meditation that had a lasting impact on his work.
“It was during one of those evenings of meditation that this profound vision jumped into my view. It was very angelic,” Venosa says. “I started chasing that vision, trying to paint it, because it was so overwhelming but so beautiful — I knew it was my path. I’ve been chasing that vision ever since.”
He later relocated to Boulder and split his time between there and New York before settling down in Boulder for good. There in Boulder he had his studio and occasionally taught workshops at Naropa University. Venosa also traveled the globe with his partner Martina Hoffmann, teaching their painting technique. The technique is a derivative of what Venosa learned from his teachers. His technique differs in the material used for the underpainting (caesin versus egg tempera) but largely follows the same processes.
After defying the doctor’s prognosis of him surviving only a few months, Robert Venosa held cancer at bay for eight years. In the last months before his passing, his fellow artist, muse and wife, Martina Hoffmann cared for him as his condition deteriorated. Venosa died peacefully at 6:56PM, August 9, 2011, in Boulder Colorado, surrounded by family. A memorial celebration was later held in his honour, attended by family, friends and fans.
- 1978 - Robert Venosa: Manas Manna (Big “O” Publishing) ISBN 0905664027
- 1991 - Robert Venosa: Noospheres (Pomegranate Communications Inc,US) ISBN 0876548176
- 1999 - Robert Venosa: Illuminatus (with Terence McKenna, Ernst Fuchs, H. R. Giger, and Mati Klarwein) (Craftsman House) ISBN 90-5703-272-4
- 2006 - True Visions (Erik Davis and Pablo Echaurren) (Betty Books) ISBN 88-902372-0-1
- 2007 - Metamorphosis (beinArt) ISBN 978-0-9803231-0-8